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Tribal groups protest in Delhi

Kokrajhar, July 11: The tribal organisations of Assam today staged a dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi in support of their various demands.

More than 100 tribal organisations staged a sit-in with placards, festoons and banners from 11am to 2pm to demand revision of tribal land policy and preparation of a new land policy of Assam and implementation of the Assam SCs and STs (Reservation of Vacancies in Services and Posts) Act, 2012.

“The loopholes in the Chapter X of the Assam Land and Revenue (Regulation) Act, 1886, has given a chance to exploit it. Therefore, a major chunk of land from the tribal belt and block have already been grabbed by non-bona fide persons or sometimes by the government itself,” the general secretary of All Assam Tribal Sangha, Aditya Kaklary, said.

The organisations are vehemently opposed to the inclusion of some more advanced communities into the list of ST (plains) category.

The group members said the Assam government has recently forwarded a proposal to the Centre despite the Registrar General of India and the National Commission for STs turning down such a proposal on the ground that these communities namely the Morans, Muttocks, Koch Rajbongshis, Sooteas, Tai Ahoms and tea tribes, do not fulfil the criteria required to declare them Scheduled Tribes.

“There are apprehensions among the tribal people that these six communities might be considered for ST status, which will adversely effected the interest of the existing ST communities,” Kaklary said.

“We have no objection to giving any special status, protection and/or privilege to any ethnic group of Assam in any other manner which will in no way hamper the rights and interests of the plains tribal people of Assam,” he said.

A memorandum was submitted to the Prime Minister, home minister and tribal welfare minister.

In another development, United Tribal Organisation, Assam (UTOA), today sought immunity to their existing constitutional safeguards if the six communities are accorded ST status.