Six tribes in Assam have called a state-wide bandh on November 15 to press their demand for Scheduled Tribe status. The Hindu was reported on Saturday.
The bandh group was called by the Soy Janagosthi Joutha Mancha. It consists of Adivasis, or “tea tribes”, Morans, Muttocks, Koch Rajbongshis, Tai Ahoms, and Chutiyas.
All six communities are currently in Assam’s list of Other Backward Classes. Together they constitute more than 30% of the electorate of Assam.
In the run-up to the 2014 general elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledged their demand for Scheduled Tribe status during a rally in Bongaigaon.
Ahead of the 2016 Assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party said in its manifesto that if elected, it would work “in close collaboration with the central government to provide ST [Scheduled Tribe] The status of the six communities in Assam is bound by a difficult time”.
In 2019, Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced in the Lok Sabha that the Cabinet had approved Scheduled Tribe status for six communities. After that, the Constitution Amendment (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 was also introduced in Parliament, but it is pending.
In the last few years, communities have accused the BJP of cheating.
On Saturday, Diganta Tamuli, general secretary of the Tai-Ahom Yuba Parishad, warned that if the six tribes are not given Schedule Tribes before the 2024 general elections, they will campaign against the BJP.
“We will not allow any BJP goal to succeed,” Tamuli was quoted as saying The Hindu.
Stephen Lakra, president of the Assam Adivasi Students Union, accused the BJP of not having any interest in passing the bill.
“A group of ministers was formed during the first BJP-led government in Assam to deal with the ST issue,” Lakra said, according to the newspaper. “But this group has not yet submitted its report to the Center for necessary action, which shows that the BJP and its allies are unwilling to do so.”
Apart from the statewide dharna on November 15, the group will also hold a protest in Delhi on November 30.