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regular-article-logo Friday, 14 June 2024

Plea to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for peace talks with Kamtapur Liberation Organisation

Letters were sent by Kamtapur Suraksha Samiti, which is based in Assam and has Rajbanshi intellectuals from both Bengal and Assam

Our Correspondent Cooch Behar Published 30.06.23, 06:29 AM
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An association of Rajbanshi intellectuals has sent letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah with a request to initiate peace talks with the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) immediately and look into the longstanding demands of the community.

The letters were sent by the Kamtapur Suraksha Samiti, which is based in Assam and has Rajbanshi intellectuals from both Bengal and Assam.

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Anupam Roy, the president of the organisation, said Jibon Singha, the self-styled chief of the KLO, a proscribed terror outfit, had accepted the Centre’s proposal for the peace parleys in January this year. Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was also involved in the initiative for the talks.

“He (Singha) entered India (from Myanmar) with some of his associates with an intention to join the mainstream and with the hope that the principal demands of Rajbanshis would be met. As far as we know he is staying in Assam now but there hasn’t been any initiative for the peace talks. We want the Narendra Modi government to start the talks,” Roy, a former IAS officer, said.

In the letter, the samiti reiterated the demands for a separate state or Union territory, the recognition of the Rajbanshi language by including it in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution and the conferment of the Scheduled Tribe status on the community in Assam. Along with the samiti, there are 28 other like-minded organisations that are backing the demands, he said.

“Altogether, there are around two crores of Rajbanshis who live in this region. Our language should be included in the Eighth Schedule and it should be introduced as a medium of instruction in schools,” he added.

In Bengal, Rajbanshis are notified as Scheduled Caste. In Assam, they want the status of the ST (plains).

“The delimitation of Assembly constituencies is in progress. At this point, we should be granted the ST status for the political protection of the community,” said Roy.

Sources said Rajbanshis wanted to exert pressure on the BJP ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha polls.

“Rajbanshis form a considerable part of the electorate in north Bengal and some districts of lower Assam. In some earlier polls, the BJP had played the card of identity politics to draw support from them but this time, the community is mounting pressure on the party. It would be interesting to see how the BJP handles the situation,” said an observer.

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