Conspiracy against ST status demand

Kalyan Barooah

NEW DELHI, Nov 12 – Claiming that a mischievous propaganda is being carried out to show that the interest of scheduled tribes (ST) would suffer, Assam’s legislators have suggested that 13 per cent un-allotted quota in Assam could be allotted to the new communities, which are demanding ST status.

By seeking to address one of the key areas of concern expressed by the tribal communities, an all-party delegation of the Assam Assembly has sought to break the logjam over the issue of inclusion of six communities in the ST list.

A mischievous propaganda is being carried out to show that the interest of existing STs would suffer in case the new communities are included in the ST list, the memorandum, submitted by the all-party delegation to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Jual Oram, said.

“In Assam, we have only utilised 37 per cent of the total 50 per cent reserved by the Supreme Court. Out of this, 10 per cent is reserved for the existing plains tribes according to their population. There is still 13 per cent not allotted to anybody. This can easily be allotted to the new communities and this can be increased by safely deducting a part of the quota reserved for the OBC,” the memorandum said.

The Assam Assembly delegation led by Speaker Pranab Gogoi has relied heavily on the report and recommendation of the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed in July 1996. The Select Committee had recommended that Chutia, Garo, Tai Ahom, Matak, Moran, Hajong and Singhpo communities might be included in the list of ST.

While the views of the Registrar General of India (RGI) and other agencies are based on record, the finding of the Committee is based on personal knowledge and is definitely a class higher, the Assam Assembly memorandum said.

The Government of India took no decision on the Select Committee recommendation for about 17 years. Then in the name of streamlining the entry of new communities a ‘Task Force ‘has been now set up by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs on February 3 to create new criteria to further delay the entry of these communities, even after their claim has been upheld by the Select Committee, it said.

The delegation would like to point out that views of the RGI are the views of the Census Commissioner of India and cannot keep changing with the change of incumbent. The best and the correct views must be placed before the Parliament Committee.