Assam Group of Ministers to report on ST status in February

Updated - January 20, 2019 10:08 pm IST

Published - January 20, 2019 09:46 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Himanta Biswa Sarma. File

Himanta Biswa Sarma. File

The Group of Ministers (GoM), formed by the Sarbananda Sonowal government to study the issue of granting the Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to six communities in Assam, will submit its report on February 15.

On January 10, the Union government introduced a Bill in Parliament to declare the six communities — Adivasi (Tea Tribes), Chutia, Koch-Rajbongshi, Matak, Moran and Ta-Ahom — the Scheduled Tribes after approval from the Registrar-General of India and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.

Assam’s 14 recognised tribes, divided into the Scheduled Tribe (Hills) and the Scheduled Tribe (Plains), are opposed to the plan for granting the status to the six communities. They say most of these communities are educationally, politically and financially more advanced than them, besides outnumbering them.

According to the coordination committee of the Tribal Organisations of Assam, the State’s total tribal population is 3.8 million, while the six communities account for more than 15 million of the State’s 31.2 million people.

On Sunday, the GoM, headed by Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma , held its first meeting. “We will meet tribal groups before submitting our report on February 15,” Mr. Sarma said. The GoM will meet representatives of the All Assam Tribal Sangha, the Bodoland Territorial Council and the autonomous councils of the Rabha, Tiwa, Thengal Kachari, Sonowal, Mising and Deuri tribes.

The GoM has had discussions with the representatives of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, which opposes the grant of the Scheduled Tribe (Hills) status to the Bodos who enjoy the status of the Scheduled Tribe (Plains). The Bodos are the largest plains tribe in the northeastern India. The numerically smaller hills tribes fear the Bodos will eat into their rights if they become the Scheduled Tribe (Hills).

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