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Anti-CAA stir brings Adivasis into focus

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Sonowal meets leaders of 2 students’ unions, promises to fulfil demands

The anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Bill protests have brought demands of the Adivasis or tea tribes in Assam to the forefront.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal met the leaders of two influential Adivasi students’ unions — the All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam and the All Santhal Students’ Union — on Tuesday evening to assure them that the BJP-led ruling alliance in the State would take steps to fulfil their demands.

The demands include providing land deeds for settlement of landless Adivasis, appointment of Adivasi language teachers in the State’s higher secondary schools and taking in more students of the community for free UPSC, medical and engineering coaching classes. State Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also attended the meeting.

Land deeds

“Submit a revenue circle-wise list of eligible beneficiaries for providing land pattas [deeds] to the tea community,” Mr. Sonowal told the students, adding that steps will be taken for granting Scheduled Tribe status to the community after the submission of a report by a group of Ministers.

The Adivasis, comprising 106 sub-groups, are the largest of the six communities demanding the ST status. The others are Chutiya, Koch-Rajbongshi, Moran, Matak, and Tai-Ahom.

The Adivasis comprise 18% of Assam’s 3.1 crore population and are considered a major vote bank because of their alleged tendency to back political parties or individual candidates en masse. They are said to be the determining factor in at least 30 to 35 of the State’s 126 Assembly seats.

Assam’s Devakanta Barooah, the then Congress president during the Emergency era, had infamously said that his party would continue to rule the State on the strength of the “Ali-Kuli” voters. Ali represents the State’s 34% Muslims, while Kuli means the “tea tribe”. The Congress and the All India United Democratic Front led by perfume baron Badruddin Ajmal have shared the Muslim votes, the Adivasi votes began swinging in favour of the BJP since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 2:31:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/anti-caa-stir-brings-adivasis-into-focus/article30398856.ece

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