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Mottocks press for ST status

Dibrugarh, Feb. 12: The Dibrugarh and Tinsukia units of the Sadou Asom Mottock Yuba Chatra Sanmilan, a youth organisation of the Mottock community of Assam, today set February 25 as the deadline for the Centre and the state government to accord ST status to the community.

The Sanmilan threatened to intensify protests in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts if the governments failed to fulfil their demands.

Talking to reporters here today, the organisations said despite being “one of the primitive aboriginal tribes” of the state, the community has not been granted ST status and, instead, been considered only as More Other Backward Classes.

“In spite of requesting the Centre and the state to take up the issue of according ST status to the community, both the governments have not taken any appropriate step,” said Loken Mohan, adviser, central committee of the Sanmilan.

“We want written assurances from both the Congress and Opposition parties before the Lok Sabha elections or we will resort to an economic blockade and demonstration,” said Dhadrani Gohain, secretary of the Tinsukia district unit of the Sanmilan.

The Sanmilan said the failure to include the community in the Sixth Schedule reflects the lack of sincerity on the part of both the governments.

“Our demand for ST status is a long-standing one. The community has been neglected till now,” said Swarup Gohain, president of the Tinsukia unit of the Sanmilan.

The Adivasi National Convention Committee, an umbrella organisation of 26 Adivasi organisations, today announced to take an anti-Congress stand in the ensuing Lok Sabha election, complaining that the party failed to take steps to accord ST status to the community.

The Adivasis, mostly tea garden workers in the state and five other ethnic communities —Tai Ahoms, Mottocks, Morans, Koch Rajbongshis and Chutiyas have been demanding ST status.

“The Congress has failed to fulfil the ST status promise they have been making before every election in the past 65 years. So this time we have decided to ask the Adivasi voters not to vote for the Congress and will also field our candidates in five Lok Sabha seats of Jorhat, Koliabor, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur and Tezpur as Independents. Adivasi voters are deciding factors in these five seats,” Bir Singh Munda, the former “commander-in-chief” of the Birsa Commando Force, an armed group, told The Telegraph today.

The BCF and four other Adivasi militant groups had laid down their arms in January 2012 after the government assured them that it would take steps to fulfil their demands.

The committee has also announced an Assam bandh on February 25, the day when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will address a rally in Guwahati.

The Janagusthiya Aikya Manch, an umbrella organisation of five organisations, today decided to hold meetings against the Congress in areas dominated by the five ethnic communities if the state and the Centre do not take a concrete decision to accord ST status to the communities.

“We will leave no stone unturned to give the Congress a fitting reply in the Lok Sabha election if we do not see a concrete step being taken to fulfil our demands,” said a member of the Manch. He said the Manch would also not tolerate if the governments try to divide these communities.