Guwahati-Laxmi Oraon, who was stripped naked and brutally assaulted by a violent mob in broad daylight in the central Beltola locality of the city on November 24, 2007, began a three-day fast on Tuesday demanding Scheduled Tribe status for the Adivasis and tea tribe communities of Assam along with four other demands.
The other demands include enhancing the wages of tea garden workers from Rs. 70 a day to Rs. 200 a day, rehabilitation of Adivasis families who were displaced during 1996 and 1998 ethnic riots between the Bodos and the adivasis, rescheduling duty hours in tea gardens so that parents can ensure that children go to school and ensure justice in cases of violence in Beltola. Ms. Oraon was brutally assaulted by a violent mob when she travelled from her village to the State capital for the first time to take part in a rally organised by the All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam (AASAA) to demand Scheduled Tribe status for the Adivasis of Assam.
Explaining the rationale behind her demand for rescheduling of working hours for tea garden workers, Ms. Oraon told , “Children of tea tribe communities are lagging behind in education as parents cannot ensure that their children go to school every day as they have to leave early for work under the existing time schedule. If the work hour starts at 9 a.m. then parents working in tea gardens will be able to ensure that their children go to school regularly.”
She said that the AASAA would also stage hunger strikes across the state on the third day to express their solidarity to her cause.
Ms. Oraon said failing a response from the government, she would undertake a five-day fast in Guwahati.