UMANAND JAISWAL- Guwahati, March 21: The tea tribes/Adivasi community has taken its fight seeking Sch-eduled Tribe status to Delhi, with senior community leaders here asserting that “dilly dallying” would result in the government frittering away the gains made by the surrender of arms by five Adivasi militant groups in January.
Assam Deputy Speaker Bhimananda Tanti told The Telegraph from Delhi that a five-member team of the Assam branch of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (Intuc) was in the national capital since yesterday trying to impress upon central leaders, including the Prime Minister and home minister, to expedite the process of according ST status to the community.
“We have already met the tribal affairs minister and made a strong case in support of our long-standing and justified demand. We are awaiting an appointment with the Prime Minister and home minister,” Tanti said.
The other members of the team include senior cabinet minister Prithibi Majhi, Jibantara Ghatowar, Raju Sahu and Dileswar Tanti.
The team’s visit comes within months of a joint team of the ACMS and Intuc meeting chief minister Tarun Gogoi and five senior cabinet ministers on the sidelines of the Assembly session on December 21 last year to discuss their long-pending demands.
Gogoi had agreed to meet a host of their demands, including raising the number of reserved seats in medical and engineering colleges and a new legislation to adequately compensate members affected by land acquisition drives for government projects.
The community carries a lot of political weight, their vote impacting results in Upper Assam and Barak Valley. It has traditionally voted for the Congress. In all, six communities are demanding ST status in Assam, with the issue figuring prominently in the Assembly.
Bhagirath Karan, a senior Intuc member, hoped the Centre would seriously consider the legitimate ST demand of the community within a stipulated timeframe.
The government, he said, must not lose sight of the fact that when the five rebel outfits had surrendered weapons, their main demand during talks with a home ministry joint secretary was ST status. “Even the student organisations want ST status. Dilly-dallying, we fear, would not only lead to a loss of confidence in the government but also revival of these groups or cropping up of new rebel groups. Moreover, the fear of Maoism spreading to tea garden areas among the disgruntled lot cannot be ruled out,” Karan warned.
Pallav Lochan Das, member of Intuc Legislature Forum, said, “We have already moved Dispur to accord extra preference to the community for its mainstreaming in matters such as employment, education and health till ST status is accorded to us.”Courtesy:TheTelegraph.