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Protest plan over ST tag

Bongaigaon, Feb. 10: An allegedly “vague” proposal on the scheduling of six ethnic groups sent by the Assam government to the Registrar General of India is what has delayed the process of according Scheduled Tribe status to the community, Adivasi National Convention leaders have claimed.

The convention will launch a fresh wave of agitation next week.

The council, a 51-member state-level umbrella body of 26 Adivasi organisations, was formed two years ago to facilitate demands of the community.

Three delegates of the council — joint secretary Prem Hansda, executive member Rimish Linda and spokesperson Birsing Munda — met assistant registrar general of India Pratibha Kumari on February 5 after meeting Purnima Tudo, the section officer under the ministry of tribal affairs and additional registrar general of India Deepak Rastogi, to discuss the status.

According to Pratibha Kumari, the latest proposal on scheduling of the Adivasi group sent by the Assam government was ambiguous.

Dispur had sent a list of 36 Adivasi communities, along with an ethnographic report, to the registrar general of India to declare them Scheduled Tribes, she told the leaders.

The registrar general of India allegedly could not grant tribal status to all of these 36 Adivasi communities, as many of them are not indigenous to Assam.

“Of the 36 enlisted Adivasi communities, only 12 are indigenous to Assam, but the state government had not sorted them out from the list before sending it,” Birsing Munda said.

He claimed that during talks with the registrar general of India officials, they were told that proposal files of five other ethnic groups — Koch-Rajbongshi, Moran, Motok, Ahom and Chutia — have been closed because of a lack of proper recommendation by the state government.

The Adivasi leaders said they would take an anti-government stand in the ensuing Lok Sabha polls. The ANC will organise a meeting in Guwahati on February 12 to protest the delay.

According to Munda, the population of Adivasis is around 40 lakh in Assam.The Biswajit Ray and Hiteswar Barman factions of the All-Koch Rajbongshi Students’ Union expressed similar sentiments.

Biswajit Ray termed chief minister Tarun Gogoi a “liar” and blamed Dispur for failing to send a clear proposal on the Scheduled Tribe issue.

Ray said they would intensify their agitation against the ruling Congress from next week.

The general secretary of the Hiteswar Barman faction, Troilokyo Ray, said, “It is a conspiracy of the Congress government to keep the Scheduled Tribe issue of the Koch-Rajbongshi alive for gaining long-term political mileage. We will give a befitting reply to the Congress in the ensuing Lok Sabha polls.”