Goalpara, Aug. 21: The Non-Rabha Co-ordination Forum today declared a series of protests, challenging the proposed elections to the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council.
The president of the forum, Sahjahan Ali, today said the Forum would not support the council elections without demarcation of the Rabha Hasong area.
He said if the government forcibly holds election in the area, they would be compelled to launch an agitation for which the state government would be solely responsible.
Ali told reporters, “The demarcation of the Rabha Hasong area is a long-pending issue but the Assam government is deliberately not solving the problem as a result of which innocent people are losing their lives.”
He alleged that the Rabha Hasong Council Act was amended twice in 2001 and 2005 only to give more power to the Rabha community by depriving the non-Rabhas.
“Since July 4, 2004 we have been demanding adequate steps for protection of non-Rabha communities but the Assam government has not paid any heed to it so far,” Ali said.
The main demand of the Forum is to exclude villages inhabited by non-Rabha communities from the proposed Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council by amending the Rabha Hasong Council Act.
“The movement for exclusion of non-Rabha villages from the Rabha Hasong Council area will be intensified. We had discussions with the cabinet sub-committee and the chief minister and were hopeful that our problem would be solved but it has not happened,” Ali said.
“The chairman of cabinet sub-committee, Prithibi Majhi, told us that only 333 villages inhabited by people from tribal communities would be included in the Rabha Hasong area but we have come to know from the voter list for the council election that 401 villages have been included,” he said.
“We will not allow elections on the basis of this voter list. We will use any means to stop the election,” Ali said.
The Forum also declared a series of protest programmes to oppose the council elections.
Ali said a protest rally would be taken out at 11am on August 27 from Goalpara district Industrial Centre to the deputy commissioner’s office where a two-hour strike will be observed.
The forum has also called a 12-hour Goalpara district bandh on August 29.
On September 2, it will state a two-hour rail blockade and on September 4, it will block National Highway 37 for two hours.
Demanding council elections in the Rabha Hasong area, the Rabha National Liberation Front had called a 36-hour bandh in Rabha Hasong from August 20. The bandh ended peacefully and no unwanted incident was reported. The Front alleged that the Assam government wants more violence in the Rabha Hasong area.
“If the government does not want the Rabha Hasong movement to take a violent turn, they should hold democratic elections in the Rabha Hasong area. If the area turns into a death valley, the Assam government will be responsible for that. For the last few years we have been observing the government’s role on the Rabha Hasong issue,” the “commander-in-chief” of the Rabha National Liberation Front, Bhargav Rangkho, said in a press release.