'Rabha council may make life difficult for non-tribals'

GUWAHATI: The Garo National Council and other non-tribal bodies have expressed concern over the security of the non-Rabhas living in south Kamrup and the Goalpara area of Assam bordering Meghalaya once the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council (RHAC) is formed.

The organizations also want the government to hold election to the panchayats in the area. "We are not opposed to the creation of the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council. But our concern is that people belonging to the Garo and other non-tribal communities should not face any harassment. We are already facing threats to our culture and language," said Benedict Areng, president of the Garo National Council. "Like in any other part of the country, panchayat elections should also be held in these areas. This can only ensure transparency in the administration," he added.

The council also demanded that the areas inhabited by over 50 per cent of Garos should be left out of the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council. "In other areas, we should get special facilities, such as the minority status. Otherwise, we will not be in any position to enjoy the basic rights of life," Areng said.

The organization expressed concern over the condition in which people living in the fringe areas along the Assam-Meghalaya boundary. "The condition is pathetic there. People are living a very difficult life there.

The Meghalaya government has, however, provided several facilities to their people. This might have an effect on the non-Rabhas as the people from Meghalaya might show loyalty to their government," said said Chandan Keshav, coordinator of the Ajanajati Garo Sonmilita Sangram Samity.