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Protests to greet Rahul

Guwahati, Feb. 20: Bandhs and protests are likely to welcome Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi who will begin his two-day visit to Assam from February 25.

The Adivasi National Convention Committee, an umbrella organisation of 26 Adivasi groups, has called a 48-hour Assam bandh from 5pm on February 24, hours before Rahul begins his visit, to register their protest against the Congress government’s alleged failure to accord Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to Adivasis, mostly working in tea gardens.

The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), a farmers’ organisation demanding land for the landless, too, has threatened to go the “extra mile” to disrupt Rahul’s meetings.

Spokesperson for the committee, Bir Singh Munda, told The Telegraph today that Adivasi groups have decided to oppose Rahul’s visit as the ruling Congress government in the state has failed to take up the ST status issue with the Centre despite several promises.

“During an Adivasi convention at Majbat in Darrang district, chief minister Tarun Gogoi had promised to send the proposal to the Centre within a month, but he forgot everything after coming to power in 2001. He made a similar promise in 2005. Now it is clear that the Congress government is only interested in our votes and not on our issues,” Munda said.

Munda was the “commander-in-chief” of Birsa Commando Force, a militant group that had laid down arms in January 2012.

The Adivasi committee will also burn effigies of Rahul and Gogoi as part of their protests during the bandh till 5pm on February 26. The committee has already announced its anti-Congress stand during the ensuing Lok Sabha polls and fielded its candidates in five constituencies where tea tribes’ votes are deciding factors.

The general secretary of the KMSS, Kamal Kumar Medhi, told reporters here today that supporters of the farmers’ organisation “will cross their limits” to disrupt Rahul’s rally in Guwahati as well as other meetings in the state.

The KMSS is angry with Gogoi for yesterday’s announcement that no land patta (document) will be given to people living in hills, forests and waterbodies in Guwahati.

“The Gogoi government has been allotting hundreds of bighas of land in the hills and wetlands to real estate firms, politicians, private schools and business organisations without paying any heed to laws. He is denying land to the landless who are entitled to get land under different government laws,” Medhi said.