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Non-Rabhas threaten to field LS candidate

Guwahati, Dec. 4: The non-Rabhas in Kamrup district today threatened to field their candidate in the Guwahati constituency in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections if their demand for exclusion of villages with majority non-Rabha population from the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council (RHAC) area was not met.

The chief coordinator of Ajanajati Garo Sanmilita Sangram Samiti, Chandan Keshav, told this correspondent that they would take the political plunge as a “last resort” if the government did not meet their demand for protection of interests of the non-Rabhas living in the council area.

“Most of the political parties ridicule our movement and some leaders even try to defame us. Despite that we decided to withdraw our protest programmes during the council election after chief minister Tarun Gogoi appealed to us. Gogoi also promised to solve our problems through talks. But if our main demand for exclusion of non-Rabha villages from the council area is not met, we will field the president of the Garo National Council (Kamrup), Benedict Areng, as an Independent candidate in the Guwahati Lok Sabha constituency,” Keshav said.

He said there are more than 3.5 lakh non-Rabha voters living in Kamrup district and they would give other party candidates a tough fight in the Lok Sabha polls.

The non-Rabhas today organised a convention at Boko in Kamrup district, 65km from here, where nearly 5,000 people took part. Leaders of non-Rabha Coordination Forum, Garo National Council, Ajanajati Garo Sanmilita Sangram Samiti, among others, attended the convention at Gandhi Maidan.

The autonomous council was constituted by the Assam government in 1995 and election to the council was held for the first time recently.

Non-Rabhas, however, have been demanding that villages with majority non-Rabha population be excluded as the council had allegedly neglected their interests.

The non-Rabha organisations staged protests in the council areas comprising parts of Kamrup and neighbouring Goalpara district.

The protests, ahead of the last month’s council polls, turned violent particularly in Goalpara district.

But it was withdrawn a day before the polls following Gogoi’s appeal.

The non-Rabha organisations have recently moved the Supreme Court challenging legal validity of the council and have already filed a petition.

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