The Telegraph
Saturday , July 27 , 2013

Call to dub tea tribes ST within 2013

New Delhi, July 26: Five truce-bound Adivasi rebel outfits of Assam today set a 2013-end deadline for the Centre to grant Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the state’s tea tribes.

The demand, similar to the one made earlier by Ulfa, was placed before the government by 10 representatives of the outfits during a round of peace talks held here today.

“The talks were positive as always but the government never acts,” Birsa Commando Force leader Birsing Munda told The Telegraph. Leaders of Adivasi National Liberation Army, Adivasi Cobra Military of Assam, Adivasi People’s Army and Santhal Tiger Force along with BCF formed the delegation that spoke to Union home ministry officials today.

The leaders trooped to New Delhi to press for a positive outcome to the proposal now moving between the home ministry, ministry of tribal affairs and Registrar-General of India. Assam is said to have reworked its proposal for ST status to 12 tribes among the adivasis, sources said.

An impatient Munda said the five groups had got together to press for their basic demand. They had also asked for an interlocutor and to be treated on a par with Ulfa. He was, however, not alone in his impatience.At a convention, New States for New India, organised by the National Federation for New States and the All Bodo Students Union (Absu) here today, the mood was for determination, given the signals from New Delhi that statehood for Telangana was on the horizon.

Speakers at the convention, who included BJP MP Chandan Mitra, said it was time to realise that identity politics was here to stay; just doling out money would not work for any government. Other speakers included former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A. Sangma, senior journalist B.G. Verghese and former Rajya Sabha MP U.G. Brahma.

Leaders from erstwhile outfits under the Hill State Democratic Party (HSDP) presented a paper, Hill State for Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao: The Unfinished National Task, at the convention. They reasoned that their impatience, even anger, stemmed from the Centre’s failure to implement even basic clauses of the memorandum of settlement signed with the erstwhile Dima Halam Daogah (DHD).

Minority status

The Jain community has been accorded the minority status in Assam, reports our special correspondent in Guwahati.

The community will be treated as a minority under the Assam State Commission for Minorities Act 2003, a notification issued yesterday by the welfare of minorities and development department stated.

According to the 2011 census, the Jains comprise less than one per cent of the state’s total population of 3,11,69,272.

Inclusion of Jains will take the number of minority communities in Assam to six, the others being Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs and Parsis.

PCC general secretary Ramesh Jain, who is associated with several national organisations of the community, thanked the state govern-ment for the decision. “Assam became the 14th state in the country to have accorded minority status to Jains,” he said.

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