The Telegraph
Tuesday , July 15 , 2014
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AASA moves Modi on ST status

AASA members stage a protest in New Delhi on Monday. Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati, July 14: The All Adivasi Students’ Association (AASA) today moved the Narendra Modi-led NDA government pressing for its long-standing demand of Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to Adivasis living in the state.

About 300 members of the students’ body today staged a dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi with an appeal to the Modi government to consider their demand and ensure welfare of the community.

“It is a long-standing and genuine demand to ensure welfare of the Adivasis in Assam. Government after government remained limited within their promises to meet our demand but we hope that the Modi government will be different,” president of the association, Raphael Kujur, told The Telegraph today.

The AASA submitted a memorandum to Modi with a plea to ensure that the promise of ST status is sincerely considered and Adivasis accorded the ST status. They also submitted a copy of the memorandum to home minister Rajnath Singh and Union tribal affairs minister Joel Oram.

Adivasis, who were brought from states like Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar during the British rule to work in tea gardens in Assam, have been complaining of negligence. They also alleged that political parties had used them as vote bank but failed to fulfil their pre-poll promises after they came to power. “The UPA government had also promised us many times but it failed to fulfil its promise. We hope the Modi government will be an exception,” Kujur said.

Before the Lok Sabha election this year, the Adivasi National Convention Committee, an umbrella organisation of 26 Adivasi organisations, had announced an anti-Congress stand in protest against the party’s alleged apathy towards their demand for ST status.

Apart from the Adivasis, five other ethnic communities — Tai Ahoms, Muttocks, Morans, the Koch Rajbongshis and the Chutiyas — have been demanding ST status to protect their identities and ensure welfare.

The Union home ministry recently made it clear that it would “fast track” the process for according ST status to six communities.

The AASA today also appealed the United Tribal Organisation, Assam (UTOA) to reconsider its announcement that it would oppose the move to accord ST status to the six communities. Koch Rajbongshis, too, made a similar appeal to the body yesterday.