National

Six Assam groups to be accorded ST status

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament on Monday.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament on Monday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Bill to be introduced in current session

In a bid to calm tempers in Assam in the wake of vociferous protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday that a Bill to declare six communities in Assam as Scheduled Tribes (ST) would be introduced in the current session of Parliament.

Speaking on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Mr. Singh said the communities that the Centre proposes to give the status to are Koch Rajbongshi, Tai Ahom, Chutia, Matak, Moran and Tea Tribes.

The legislation will change the demographic status of Assam, making it a tribal-majority State.

“Full safeguards will be provided to protect the interests, rights and privileges of the existing Scheduled Tribes of Assam,” the Minister said. A separate Bill would be introduced to grant the ST status to Bodo Kacharis in the hill districts of Assam and Karbis in the rest of Assam, he said. “The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution is also proposed to be amended to strengthen the Autonomous District Councils,” he added.

The Centre’s decision to grant ST status for the six communities currently listed as Other Backward Classes in Assam evoked mixed reactions in the State with the leaders of six communities sceptical of the Centre’s intent, while Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal welcomed the move.

Biswajit Roy, leader of the All Koch-Rajbongshi Students’ Union, said it would believe the Centre only when the Bill was passed by both Houses of Parliament and received the President’s approval.

Adivasi leader Rupesh Gowala also sniffed a poll-oriented design in the Centre’s move.

(With inputs by

Rahul Karmarkar)

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 9:00:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/six-assam-groups-to-be-accorded-st-status/article25943828.ece

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