Six Assam communities seeking Scheduled Tribe status form united forum, announce stir

The agitational programmes include Assam bandh on November 15 and a dharna in Delhi on November 30

The agitational programmes include Assam bandh on November 15 and a dharna in Delhi on November 30

GUWAHATI

Six ethnic groups in Assam seeking Scheduled Tribe (ST) status have formed a united forum and announced a series of agitational programmes to pressure the Narendra Modi government into fulfilling their demand.

The forum is called Soy Janagosthi Joutha Mancha (Joint Platform of Six Communities). It represents the Adivasi or “tea tribes”, Chutia, Koch-Rajbongshi, Matak, Moran and Tai-Ahom communities.

All these communities are categorised as Other Backward Classes (OBC).

Leaders of the forum said the community-based organisations joined hands to make their movement for ST status stronger.

“Two Lok Sabha and two Assam Assembly elections have passed without the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) honouring its promise to grant us the ST status. If the process of granting ST status is not completed before the 2024 parliamentary polls, we will not let any mission of the BJP be successful,” Diganta Tamuli, the general secretary of the Tai-Ahom Yuba Parishad told journalists on Saturday.

“A group of Ministers was formed during the first BJP-led government in Assam to deal with the ST issue. But this group is yet to submit its report to the Centre for necessary action, indicating the BJP and its allies have no intention to do so,” Stephen Lakra, the president of All Assam Adivasi Students’ Association said.

The Tai-Ahom and Adivasi associations are constituents of the united forum.

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Criticising the BJP-led governments in Assam and at the Centre for “playing with the sentiments of the six communities”, the forum announced its agitational programmes beginning with a railway blockade in Dhemaji district on November 14.

The other such programmes include a 12-hour Assam bandh on November 15 and a dharna in Delhi on November 30. Members of the forum and its constituents will also write letters to all the MPs from Assam from November 28-30, seeking their commitment to the ST issue.

One of the reasons why ST status for these six communities is being delayed is the opposition to it from nine tribes who fear losing a share of the reservation pie.

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