TANGLA: The All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam (AASAA) organized a massive mass gathering which was attended by more than one lakh people belonging to the Adivasi community along with supporters of All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam (AASAA) on Sunday at Tangla High School playground in Udalguri district where the student body avouched to oust the saffron party if their demand for Scheduled Tribe status for the community was not fulfilled.
The gathering raised their voice in unison demanding the government for resolving the issues plaguing the community, including granting ST status, providing land pattas to the community, increment of daily wages of tea garden workers to Rs.350, among others.
The student body slammed both the Central and State governments for ‘giving false promises to the community before every election’ and reiterated that if the community was not granted ST status before the 2021 Assembly polls, the 60 lakh Adivasis residing in Assam would withdraw their support base from the saffron party.
“Why are the socio-politically backward, Adivasis toiling in tea gardens, deprived of their constitutional right of ST status? Why are BJP leaders postponing the issue?” said the president of AASAA, Pradeep Nag.
“Adivasis are contributing to the economic growth and development of Assam from pre-Independence era, but today if there is a survey it is the Adivasis who are most backward and deprived of basic amenities like proper house, land right and constitutional right of ST status,” said Nag.
Nag also made a clarion call to the legislators and parliamentarians of the community from Assam to raise their voice in their capacities or else they would meet the same fate like that of regional partyleaders of Assam who were cornered by the voters. “Grant us ST status and we will make the green tea gardens greener,” Nag added.
A former AASAA leader, Paul Toppo said, “The government must understand the democratic language of the Adivasis and fulfil its pre-poll promises and assurances.”
DK Chauhan, a New Delhi based journalist attending the event said, “Adivasis are demanding ST status within the framework of the Constitution through Article 342.” General secretary Joseph Minj said, “There is a clear ulterior political motive of the government for its consistent delay in the issue. If till 2020 we are not granted ST status, we will oust the BJP in the polls.”
Sunita Ekka, a female protester from Baksa participating in the demonstration said, “Like the previous Congress government, the saffron party has also resorted to postponing the ST status issue for Adivasi people of Assam by citing various daily-dallying tactics but for how long will we be deprived of our ST status?”
“Our ancestors and fellow sub- communities of Adivasis are enjoying ST status in States like Bihar, Orissa, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand but in Assam, despite fulfilling the four criteria of tribal characteristics, neither the State Government nor the Central Government are making genuine attempts. If the government doesn’t grant us ST status before the forthcoming Assam Assembly polls of 2021 , we are determined to oust the saffron party from power,” said Laxman Porja of Udalguri chapter AASAA. The student body reiterated to launch massive democratic protest if their demand was not fulfilled at the earliest. The mass gathering was attended by Adivasis from various districts including Baksa, Sonitpur, Biswanath and Chirang.