The Indigenous People’s Forum (IPF) and a number of intellectuals from Dima Hasao on Friday urged government of Assam to make the proposed “talks” scheduled on Monday, a final sitting to grant a separate district with an autonomous council for the non-Dimasas.
Dima Hasao superintendent of police Bir Bikram Gogoi said, “A meeting between the apex bodies of the non-Dimasa group of people and the government of Assam represented by finance minister Himanta Biswa Sharma will be held on February 17 in Guwahati to discuss the demands raised by the IPF and its affiliated bodies.”
Talking to this correspondent, IPF secretary L. Hlima Keivom said, “We have been demanding two separate autonomous district councils; one for the Dimasa and the other for the non-Dimasa communities for decades.”
Keivom said the meeting was arranged immediately by the government following the indefinite bandh called by the IPF on February 11.
“Within an hour of the bandh, the personal assistant to the deputy commissioner of Dima Hasao informed us about the proposed ‘talks’. A letter was also sent to me,” Keivom said, stressing that now the only demand is to make the proposed “talks” the final one for a lasting solution.
The nomenclature of the erstwhile North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council was changed and renamed Dima Hasao Autonomous District Council on March 31, 2010.
According to Keivom, the first communal conflict and misunderstanding began in the early 1980s when the Dimasa Students’ Union raised the slogan, ‘North Cachar Hills for the Kacharis’ and demanded 90 per cent reservation in all fronts for the Dimasas. “The Dimasas again raised the slogan, ‘Dima Halali’, which means the ‘Golden Reign of the Dimasas,’ that intensified the communal conflict and insecurity among the other non-Dimasas,” he said.
The government constituted a task force headed by the then additional chief secretary P.P. Varma as chairman on August 17, 2010 to examine the recommendation of the of Group of Ministers Committee regarding safeguards for minority tribes in Dima Hasao district.
“Having accepted the need to speed up development in the hill areas, the task force felt that the demand for setting up two separate, independent autonomous district councils should be considered by the government,” the task force report said.
According to the 2001 census, the population of Dimasas was 63,146 against the total population of 1,88,146 in the district. The other non-Dimasa groups having population more than 8,000 includes, Bengali (27,320), Nepalis (12,404), Hmar (14,158), Jemi Nagas (15,511), Karbis (8,892), Hindi-speaking (8,720) and Kukis (8,525).