Assam Koch-Rajbongshi groups move CM on ST status

GUWAHATI: Koch Rajbongshi groups of Assam staged a sit-in demonstration near the Assam Secretariat at Last Gate here on Tuesday demanding Scheduled Tribe (Plains) status to the community.

The organisations comprising All Assam Koch Rajbongshi Sanmilani (AAKRS), All Assam Koch Rajbongshi Yuva Chatra Sanimilani and All Assam Koch Rajbongshi Mahila Sanimilani, also submitted a memorandum to Assam chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal requesting necessary action to bring in a constitutional amendment Bill to include the Koch Rajbonshi community in the ST (Plains) category without further delay.

The community is listed in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.

Speaking to The Shillong Times here, Ranjit Kumar Roy, general secretary of the All Assam Koch Rajbongshi Sanmilani said, “Though no timeframe has been mentioned in the memorandum, we would be compelled to stage a democratic agitation if this decades-old demand is not fulfilled.”

“The 27th report of the Standing Committee on Labour and Welfare (2002), ministry of tribal affairs had noted that the Koch community in the neighboring state of Meghalaya, which was part and parcel of erstwhile Assam, has been included in the list of Scheduled Tribes, whereas the Koch Rajbongshi community of Assam has been deprived of the benefits of Scheduled Tribe status despite the recommendations of the Select Committee of Lok Sabha in 1997,” the groups stated in the memorandum to the chief minister.

The Standing Committee had on the basis of information from the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, then, also recommended urgent steps to include the community in the list of Scheduled Tribes of Assam.

The organisations questioned as to why the community was not included in the ST list in spite of the recommendations made by the Standing Committee in 2002, apart from the admission of the then Union tribal affairs minister, Jual Oram, in the floor of Parliament, regarding recommendations from other agencies for ST status to the Koch Rajbongshi community of Assam.

“Time and again we have raised the demand before central and state governments but to no avail. An expert committee formed by the state government also submitted their report to the Centre, which is still pending,” Roy said.

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