The Karbi Students’ Association has demanded scrapping of the clause in the new Bodo Peace Accord signed on Monday which will grant Scheduled Tribe (hills) status to Bodo-Kacharis living in Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts.
“We are glad that the people in Bodoland are going to achieve another milestone in the history of Bodoland movement. Signing of this agreement will realise the long-pending grievances of the people of Bodoland. We extend our best wishes to them. We have come to learn that the government of India has re-incorporated another controversial issue of Clause 8 of BLT accord. The Karbi Students Association (KSA) and the people of Karbi Anglong have been opposing the issue ‘tooth & nail’ because implementation of Clause 8 of BLT accord will bring serious threat to the existing hills tribes of Assam,” the statement said.
The student group also said the Bodos are the most advanced tribe in Assam and hence were given ST (plains) category, while Karbis, Dimasas, Hmars and Kukis were given ST (hills) status because they are more backward. It also appealed to the state government to review the decision and scrap Clause 8 of the BLT accord at the earliest to maintain harmony, peace and tranquillity in the region. “Failing to respond to our appeal may lead to initiation of strong democratic movement against the government in the days to come in order to protect our own rights,” it added.
The regional Autonomous State Demand Committee has also urged the Assam government to revoke it policy decision.
“If ST (hills) status is provided to Bodo-Kacharis living in the hill districts of Assam, the community will enjoy safeguards and privileges available to both hills and plains tribes in the same state. This is very much against the doctrine of “equality before the law or equal protections of the laws within the territory on India” provided in Article 14 of the Constitution. It is embodied not only in Article 14 but also in Articles 15 to 18 as well as Articles 38, 39, 39A, 41 and 46. Moreover, it will badly affect the provision of Article 332(2) and 335 provided for safeguard of hill tribes living in the hill districts of Assam since time immemorial,” said ASDC general secretary Jotson Bey.