A seminar on “Scheduling of New Communities as SC/ST in India – Problems, Prospects and Threats” held on Friday at Constitution Club of India. The seminar was inaugurated by Sjt. J D Seelam, Former Finance Minister, Government of India.
in the Seminar it was decided to oppose the proposal of the Govt. of Assam and Government of India to grant Scheduled Tribes (ST) status to six advanced and populous OBC communities of Assam namely, Koch Rajbongshi, Tai-Ahom, Chutia, Moran, Motok and Adivasi (Tea-Tribes) is a conspiracy to destroy the existing Scheduled Tribes of Assam.
On his Preliminary remarks Suhas Chakma said , historical records on STs already exist. This is a very complex issue as it involves politics, power. Only Adivasis have characteristics of STs. If Assamese are to be declared STs, what would happen to real STs? The consequences are serious – it will be like providing ST status to Meenas in Rajasthan. Politics to remain in power.
In his welcome speach Promod Boro, president ABSU said, that this seminar is very important. The GOI and Assam gave political commitment but these governments are not understanding the real facts. This is the second seminar regarding this issue.
Our approach is legal, constitutional and holistic. Ours is a constitutional language. We have been trying to tell the govts if you are thinking about the advanced communities, why not about the down trodden?
Delevering his key note address Aditya khakhlari said that “Is a conspiracy to destroy/ exterminate the existing STs of Assam. If granted STs to six communities, it shall eliminate political representation of STs from gram sabha to State Assemblies to LS and representation in education and jobs forever. There is no way the existing STs will be able to compete with these six advanced communities. Even the current STs who have land rights under Chapter X of Assam Land and Revenue (Regulation ) Act 1988.
Giving a background to the problem, G K Pillai, former Home Secretary, Government of India, stated that this problem come as a result of Assam agitation against foreigners. Assam Accord of 1985 says government will look at the constitutional safeguards of indigenous communities of Assam. But there is no consensus over who is indigenous and who is not. Now the process of identification of indigenous communities is happening through the NRC based on 1951, 1971 electoral rolls. He further stated that ULFA is under peace talks. This move to declare six communities as STs is one option which came up as part of discussions to resolve foreigners issue and providing safeguard to the indigenous communities in Assam. Muslims form 35% of population of Assam and politically very significant. One school of thought is that if six communities are declared as STs majority constituencies under Muslim domination will become reserved seats for STs and hence Muslim domination will be prevented. It is a political move but it won’t be easy for the government to confer ST status as there are clear criteria which majority of these communities do not qualify. Judicial scrutiny on government move is necessary. The government need to find political protection for the existing STs instead of marginalising them further.
The seminar unanimously adopted the resolutions to oppose granting of “Scheduled Tribe” status to the six communities of Assam as it will destroy the STs of Assam and India.