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Adivasis move CM over ST status

Guwahati, Dec. 1: The Adivasi groups in Assam have urged chief minister Tarun Gogoi to take up the Scheduled Tribe (ST) status issue with the Centre and speed up the process.

A 33-member delegation of Adivasi National Convention Committee and its constituent organisations met Gogoi last evening urging him to expedite the process of granting ST status to the 36 Adivasi communities.

The delegation headed by the committee’s president, Romanus Horo, also urged for extension of the Adivasi Development Council for all Adivasis living across the state for better socio-economic, educational and cultural development of the community.

Adivasis have been living in the state since they were brought from Bihar, Odisha and Bengal to work in tea gardens during British rule. More than 60 lakh Adivasis are still associated with the gardens. But the groups have been complaining about discrimination by the government to accord them land rights, ST status and other benefits.

On Saturday, leaders of five Adivasi militant groups in ceasefire, during a tripartite meeting with joint secretary (Northeast) of the Union home ministry, Shambu Singh, and Assam government officials expressed displ-easure over “tardy progress” in according ST status. They said the government was dilly-dallying the process despite their demands since 1967.

A government statement said Gogoi assured the delegation that he would consider their demands as enlisted in the memorandum, which included rehabilitation of all cadres of Adivasi ceasefire groups within a time-frame and enacting of a law to protect the land of the Adivasis.

The delegation included organisations like Adivasi Council of Assam, All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam, All Santhal Students’ Union, Kharia Mahasabha, Saora Sahitya Sabha, Adivasi Seva Samity and five militant groups in ceasefire — Adivasi Cobra Military of Assam, Birsa Commando Force, All Adivasi National Liberation Army, Santhali Tiger Force and Adivasi Peoples’ Army.