The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Culprit’ rally cheers court stricture

The little-known tribal organisation working in the city out of an obscure address, which set off the chain of events culminating in the judiciary’s decision to stamp out rallies from work-day Calcutta, is, ironically, happy with the Calcutta High Court verdict.

Welcoming Justice Amitava Lala’s ruling asking police to deny rallyists the right of way when the city is at work, the Adivasi Socio-Educational and Cultural Association (Aseca) — which had held the demonstration on Wednesday, paralysing traffic and holding up the judge on his way to court — has said it is all for putting an end to rally raj.

“We have nothing against the court ruling and, unlike the mainstream political parties opposing the judiciary’s efforts to make urban life better, we are happy with the decision taken by Justice Lala,” Aseca spokesperson Bireshwar Murmu said on Tuesday, from the organisation’s local base near Bhowanipore.

The mainstream political parties had their “own selfish interests” in opposing the court’s verdict asking police to allow rallies between 8 pm and 8 am on working days and confine the congregations to only three spots on Sundays and public holidays, said Murmu, a resident of Lalgarh, in West Midnapore.

The Calcutta High Court decision would not hurt their organisation, opined Bankim Soren, another Aseca member (originally from Gopiballabhpur) in the city. The organisation had no intention of disrupting life in Calcutta, he explained, adding that the last rally the organisation had staged in the city was in October 2001.

“We will be more than happy to cooperate with the police in its efforts to implement the court decree,” said Soren. Most of the Aseca-organised rallies were held outside the city, he added, with the next rally lined up for Burdwan in November this year.

Wednesday’s rally had been organised by Aseca to focus on the tribal language (Alchiki) spoken by around a crore of people across several states. “We were demanding its inclusion in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution,” Murmu said, referring to last Wednesday’s rally, that brought in more than 40,000 people, according to the organisers.

Tribals from West and East Midnapore, Purulia, Bankura, Malda, Murshidabad, North and South Dinajpur and North 24-Parganas — accompanied by those from Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar — had converged on the city centre, carrying their traditional weapons to draw attention to the “burning problem”.

Alchiki, Aseca members said, was gradually dying out in the semi-urban tribal areas. Its inclusion in the Eighth Schedule and use in educational institutions in the tribal areas will help it fight the more dominant languages, they feel.


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