Just like the slogan ‘No ST No Rest’ is heard in the state for ages, Assam government has once again assured the six ethnic communities of the state of granting Scheduled Tribe (ST) status soon like a ritual before elections. The demand of according ST status to the six communities of Chutias, Motoks, Morans, Koch-Rajbongshis, Tai-Ahoms and tea tribes has been pending for decades and every time before both Lok Sabha and state polls, while the communities press for their demands before the government and latter assures them invariably.
While the chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal was seen busy meeting the leaders of all these communities during the last couple of days, Assam minister for welfare of plains tribes and backward classes, Chandan Brahma, on September 4 once said that the process of sending the state government’s report to the Centre for granting ST status was almost on the final stage.
But, it was not new. Brahma also said the same in March this year. The minister then also had said that the report was just about to be sent after a final consultation with the various stakeholders. Repeating the same he said that the meeting with all the stakeholders in the case was still awaited. The only difference in Brahma’s statement this time was that the state government could not hold the meeting yet due to the COVID19 outbreak. Assam government was supposed to submit its report by February 15 last year, but them also the issue got buried because of the Lok Sabha elections.
Earlier, the state government said that there were some unresolved issues regarding the demand for ST status such as what will be the percentage of OBC population after giving ST status to the six communities, what will happen to communities like Nath Jogi and Gorkha and sub-groups among the Adivasi tea tribes who have not been given a green signal by the Registrar General of India for ST status. It was also found that some 96 sub-groups of Adivasis, only 36 had got a green signal for ST status.
The pending status, however, did not appease the organisations of the six communities. In what may seem like a damage control tactic, the Assam assembly on Thursday passed three Bills to create separate autonomous councils for Moran, Matak and Koch-Rajbongshi communities in the state.
Though the move was welcomed by the group members of these communities, Opposition parties suspected that it might be BJP’s another ‘token’ service to divert the anger. However, with the BJP government’s repeated promises that it will surely grant ST status to all the six communities, it will be interesting to see the development, especially in the run-up to the state polls 2021 and the responses of the six ethnic communities.