By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, August 12: Jourlists in Guwahati are hazier now on the, what they said, hazy August 6 meeting between Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jewel Oram and leaders of the Jagosthiya Aikya Mancha, Assam (JAMA) on the vexed issue of ST status to six ethnic groups of Assam after today’s press briefing by JAMA leaders. The six ethnic groups are Morans, Muttucks, Tai Ahoms, Koch-Rajbongshis, Chutias and Tea Tribes.
JAMA comprises All Tai Ahom Students’ Union (ATASU), All Assam Muttuck Yuba-Chantra Sanmilan (AAMJCS), All Tea Tribe Students’ Asociation (ATTSA), All Moran Students’ Association (AMSA), Chutia Yuba Sanmilan (CYS) and the All Koch-Rajbongshi Students’ Union (AKRSU).
The leaders of the constituent organizations of JAMA said they are ignorant of what Union Traibal Affairs Minister Jewel Oram said at Guwahati recently on the ST issue. They even stopped short of divulging what exactly were discussed at their meeting with the Union Tribal Affairs Minister in New Delhi on August 6. ATASU president Litul Burhagohain, AMSA president Abhijit Moran, AAMJCS president Udai Shankar Mohan, ATASU adviser Ashwini Chetia, CYS secretary Nripen Khanikar and AKRSU general secretary Trailokya Ray said: “We went to Delhi to press for the demand for ST status to the six ethnic groups.”
When asked on the proposed new modalities for providing ST status to the six groups, they said: “We’re not briefed on the exact modalities. We, however. are certain that the new modalities will be ready by September 15 this year.”
It is worth mentioning here that Oram splelt out clearly in Guwahati recently that the three principal criteria to be included in the new modalities for ST status to the six ethnic groups are ‘historical injustice, phonetic abbreviations and geographical isolation’. The Union minister was also on record saying that ‘approvals from the State Government, the RGI and the tiol Council for Scheduled Caste are a must for according ST status to the six ethnic status’. However, when asked on these matters, the JAMA leaders said that are ignorant of the three criteria for ST status. They also emphatically said that for according ST status to the six ethnic groups, approval from Dispur is not necessary.
The press briefing by the JAMA leaders made it crystal clear that they were not briefed on the proposed new modalities for ST status by the Union minister not did they feel like asking him on the issue.