By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Aug 8: The Central government is in the process of changing the criteria for granting Scheduled Tribe status to communities and the exercise will take three to four months time, Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram said today.
He said the five earlier criteria are redundant. "The three new criteria will be historical injustice, phonetic variation and geographical isolation. On the basis of these criteria, the demands of the communities will be considered," Oram told reporters on the sidelines of a regiol semir on Vision Document for the STs, organized by Vavasi Kalayan Ashram at Shilpgram here.
Amidst mounting pressure from six Assam communities - Moran, Mottok, Chutia, Ahom, Koch Rajbongshi and Tea tribes - for ST status, Oram said his ministry has received over 1,000 applications from communities demanding ST status. Of them, 12/13 are from Assam.
"The Central government cannot do it by itself. There has to be a recommendation from the State government and endorsement from the Registrar General of India and tiol Commission for STs. Only after that ,the Tribal Affairs ministry can consider the proposal and take it to the cabinet. Even after that we need an ethnography report, before placing it in Parliament," he insisted, apparently elaborating on the prolonged time taken for the exercise.
A delegation of the six communities from Assam has recently called on Oram and had submitted a memorandum pressing for their demand.
Oram had chaired a meeting of the representatives of various organizations of the six communities and had assured that their demand will be considered after the change in the modalities is effected.
The six communities have threatened that the BJP will have to face the consequences if they are not granted ST status before next year's assembly elections.