By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, February 3: The All Tai Ahom Students’ Union (ATASU) today accused the BJP–led NDA government at the Centre of adopting a divide–and–rule policy on the issue of granting ST status to six ethnic groups of the state – Moran, Muttock, Tai Ahom, Koch–Rajbongshi, Chutia and Tea Tribe.
Addressing a press meet in Guwahati today, ATASU president Pranjal Rajkonwar said: “The BJP came to power at the Centre criticizing its UPA predecessor at the Centre for not doing anything worthwhile for granting ST status to the Moran, Muttock, Tai Ahom, Koch–Rajbongshi, Chutia and Tea Tribe. However, after coming to power, the government led by the BJP at the Centre is out to divide the six ethnic groups demanding ST status. The NDA government is talking about granting ST status to some of the ethnic groups, depriving others. Such a move will have a dent on the unity among the six ethnic groups that have so far been fighting in unison.”
Rajkonwar further said: “The seven BJP MPs of Assam are conspicuous by their silence on the issue of ST status to the six ethnic groups of the state. Specially, the silence being maintained on the issue by Union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs (independent charge) Sarbanda Sonowal is shrouded with mystery.”
According to the ATASU president, neither Dispur nor New Delhi has none anything worthwhile to ensure ST status to the six ethnic groups of the state despite the communities concerned having fulfilled the requisite criteria to be declared ST. “Following a discussion with the State Government, we submitted our reports to Dispur that only passed the buck to the Centre. When we met the Centre, it too passed the buck to the Register General of India (RGI) saying that the RGI was the ultimate authority to grant ST status to any community. However, when we met the RGI on December 23, 2013, the cat was really out of the bag. The RGI let us know that it was the lack of political will that dilly–dallied the granting of ST status to the six ethnic groups,” Rajkonwar said, and added: “Not only big dam and Bangladeshi issues, the Centre’s step–motherly treatment to Assam and other States of the Northeast is glaring on all issues.”
Setting a deadline of 1015 for the government to meet the demand for ST status to the six ethnic groups of the state, Rajkonwar said: “If our demand is not met within the time stipulated, we will contemplate on taking a political decision. We may even float a political party in 2016 if the NDA government continues to ignore our demand.”
Meanwhile, the ATASU president made its agitation schedule public. On February 19, ATASU activists will stage a sit–in strike in front of the Raj Bhavan in Guwahati, a 48–hour fast in Guwahati from March 2 and a sit–in strike at Jantar–Mantar in New Delhi on March 9.