Congress does U-Turn on ST status to Bodos in Karbi Anglong?
From our Correspondent
KOKRAJHAR, May 31: Giving Scheduled Tribe (Hills) status to the Bodo community living in the two Sixth Schedule hill districts of Assam cannot be viewed as totally out of context in view of the opposition put up particularly by Congress and HSDC party recently.
A peep into the government records shows that Assam Government never opposed the issue and the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council extended conditiol support to the Bodo’s demand. It was the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council executive committee led by Dr. Jayanta Rongpi which gave its recommendation on October 25, 1991 on the basis of its EC resolution that “the Bodos and the Tiwas living in Karbi Anglong should be accorded due scheduling in the Sixth Schedule areas”. The resolution, however, recommended that the due scheduling should be done within the ambit of an autonomous state as provided in Article 244(A) of the constitution. But ironically, the Tiwas living in these two districts were accorded ST (H) status keeping the Bodo tribes aside, also by paying no heed to the EC resolution. The scheduling of the Tiwas who are more populated then the Bodos, did not invite any political resistance from any political party or pressure group.
The Congress-ruled Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council persuaded the issue again in 2002, Principal Secretary of KAAC based on the EC resolution of KAAC vide his letter no KAAC PS-EC/2002(A)/22nd July 2002, wrote to the Ministry of Home Affairs to “solve the Bodo issue amicably in the interest of peace and development of the region”. Again in March 26, 2003, Secretary to Government of Assam, WPT & BC Department wrote to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India regarding inclusion of Bodo tribes in the list of Scheduled
Tribes of Assam pertaining to autonomous districts. The issue was always persuaded by the Congress-led Assam Government with affirmative recommendations; in 1998, through letter no
TDA/BC/188/97/13 dated 9.1.98, PP Verma, Commissioner and Secretary to the Government of Assam WPT &BC Department wrote to Ministry of Welfare, Government of India, “The Government of Assam now recommends that the Bodos, Lalungs and Sonowals residing permanently in Karbi Anglong and district and NC Hills District should be included in the list of Scheduled Tribes of these two Autonomous Hill Districts and the Karbis and Dimasas residing permanently in the plain district of Assam should be included in the list of STs.”
Keeping the legacy of recommendation of the issue, Commissioner and Secretary to the Government of Assam wrote to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs that on the basis of tripartite BLT accord of 10th February 2003 the Assam Government reiterated its recommendation of including the Bodos in the list of ST (H) in both autonomous hill districts of Assam; by amending the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order 1950 at the earliest.
On May 2, 2013, Secretary to the Government of Assam, vide his letter no TAD/BC/87/93/146 Dated 2nd May 2013 wrote to the Director (C& LM), Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, “Bodo and Bodo Kacharies living in the Autonomous Hills Districts mely Karbi Anglong and NC Hills Autonomous Council area (now Dima Hasao District) may be included in the ST (Hills) list of Assam by changing their nomenclature as Boro/ Boro Kacharies.”
The persistent follow-up of the issue by Congress government at Dispur under all probability was not done without affirmative consent of the Congress ruled KAAC; the sudden U-Turn of the Congress on this problem only surfaced after its poll debacle. The conglomeration of Congress, HSDC and various social and students organization under the banner of Hills Tribe Protection Forum is no doubt a rare accumulation and may prove to be a lethal weapon against ruling BJP in the forthcoming KAAC election. Both Congress and HSDC, which is politically in moribund condition in the hill districts of Assam, may draw fresh oxygen from this issue.