Guwahati: The state government on Tuesday said the Registrar General of India had in 2003 rejected inclusion of the Koch-Rajbongshis in the list of Scheduled Tribes (plains) on the grounds that the community embraced Hinduism and lost its tribal characteristic long ago.
In a reply to the assembly, state plains tribes and other backward class welfare minister Rajib Lochan Pegu said despite the Registrar General of India’s stand, the government was still pursuing the issue of the ST status for the Koch-Rajbongshis with the Centre, which alone could take the decision.
The minister said on August 5, 2004, the house had adopted a resolution to impress upon the Union government for the inclusion of the Koch-Rajbongshis, along with the Tai Ahoms, the Chutias, the Morans, the Motoks and the Tea and Ex-tea Tribe, in the ST list. “The state government had set up expert committees to examine the characteristics of these groups. The committees for Moran and Koch-Rajbongshi communities have already submitted their reports to the government,” he added.
The Koch-Rajbongshi community had enjoyed the tribal status for a year from January 1996. But the status was not extended after January 1997 following an ordinance.
According to the documents furnished with the minister’s reply, the Office of the Registrar General of India (ORGI) had in 2003 said, “The ORGI never disagreed with the tribal origin of the community, but has opined that the community has long been converted into Hinduism and are at present like a caste of Hindus.”
The ORGI also observed, “On the contrary, since the Koch-Rajbongshi have adopted Hindu gotra, any existence of their original tribal clans could be assumed to be superficial, although no mention of them has been made in the state government’s comment.”
They ORGI’s obesarvation was in response to the state government’s earlier proposal for granting ST status to the Koch Rajbongshis.
Pegu also said that the ORGI had rejected the state’s proposal for grating ST status to the Tea and Ex-Tribe community. “The state government has not found any expert to examine the tribal characteristics of the tea workers community to prepare a proposal and submission it to the Registrar General of India for granting tribal status to the group. The state is taking steps to set up the expert committees to examine the Tea and Ex-Tribe community,” the minister added.Courtesy:TheTimesOfIndia.