The All Assam Koch-Rajbongshi Sanmiloni, Koch-Rajbongshi Yuba-Chatra Sanmiloni and the Koch Rajbongshi Mahila Sanmiloni on Tuesday set a three-month deadline to the Centre and the state government to grant Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the Koch Rajbongshi community of Assam.
On Saturday, the state cabinet announced to set up three autonomous councils — one for the Koch Rajbongshi community (Kamtapur Autonomous Council) residing in undivided Goalpara district, excluding BTAD and Rabha Hasong areas, and two more for Moran and Muttock communities. The three communities have been demanding Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
Welcoming the state government’s effort, Koch-Rajbongshi Sanmiloni president (in-charge), Dilip Kumar Bora, said: “We still doubt the state government’s sincerity on the whole issue. The primary demand of the Koch Rajbongshis is ST status which has been delayed decade after decade. We do laud Dispur’s effort for announcing autonomy for the Koch Rajbongshis. But at the same time, we set them (Dispur and Delhi) a three-month ultimatum to grant us ST status. Otherwise, we will intensify protests.”
“Only providing ST status to the six communities of the state can protect the indigenous people. Therefore, we urge the Centre and the state government to reserve at least 70 Assembly constituencies for the indigenous people.” Bora said the Koch Rajbongshis do welcome the proposed Kamtapur autonomous council, but not at the cost of the ST status.
Working president of the Koch-Rajbongshi Sanmiloni, Pranab Narayan Dev, said without getting ST status, the Koch Rajbongshis will not stop. “If the six communities are not granted ST status, we will intensify our protest against the Centre in a democratic way. It must fulfil its promise.”
“During campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP promised six communities ST status if they came to power,” Dev said. He alleged that the Koch Rajbongshis settled in the BTAD are considered second-class citizens. “Therefore, we demand the state government ensure political and land rights of the Koch Rajbongshis. No Koch Rajbongshi should be left out of the purview of the proposed Kamtapur Autonomous Council,” Dev said.
Addressing a news conference in Chilarai Bhawan AKRSU’s Udalguri (west) chapter president Hemanta Bora Koch said: “The formation of a council was never a part of the tripartite talks. We oppose creation of such a council which caters to only people of undivided Goalpara district.”
Additional reporting by Shajid Khan in Udalguri