Guwahati, 05.11.2016: The President of India had promulgated the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Ordinance on 27th January, 1996, which was re-promulgated three times, granting the Koch-Rajbongshi community of Assam, S.T(P) status for one year. After 20 years of dilly-dallying by the Central and State Govt., holding numerous talk’s right up to the level of the Union Home Minister, the State Govt. has now appointed a senior Police Officer as a Mediator to liaise with the organizations demanding S.T status, which is nothing but a big farce and an insult to the Koch-Rajbongshi community. Nothing further needs to be done in regard to the Scheduling of the Koch-Rajbongshi community, other than to introduce the Bill in the Parliament for voting, for the following among other reasons:
- No new modalities are relevant as the proposal for inclusion of the Koch-Rajbongshi community in S.T(P) list, was submitted in 1994, and cannot be given a retrospective effect.
- Tribal Research Institute, Govt. of Assam undertook a detailed field investigation (ethnographic study) based on the original five criteria adopted by Govt. of India, and submitted its report on 9th August, 1994, clearly stating that “…there are adequate justifications for the inclusion of the Koch-Rajbongshi community in S.T(P) lists of Assam”.
- Registrar General of India had stated that, “…in the light of the empirical data furnished by the Tribal Research Institute, Assam, this office has ‘no objection’ to the inclusion of the Koch-Rajbongshi community in the S.T(P) list of Assam”.
- A Select Committee of Lok Sabha, which also heard the views of Smt. Asha Das, Secretary, National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes; Vijayanunni, Registrar General and Census Commissioner India and Shri. K.K Bakshi, Secretary, Ministry of Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi, on 5th August, 1997, adopted the report and concluded that “…the Koch-Rajbongshis should be included in the list of Scheduled Tribes so that they may come in the mainstream of the public life”.
- The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 1996 to provide for inclusion of the Koch-Rajbongshi’s in the S.T(P) list of Assam was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 14th February, 1996 and again on 12th July, 1996 by Govt. of India. But the Bill was not enacted on time, and the Ordinance lapsed. Since then the issue is hanging in absolute uncertainty.
Why, the BJP-led-NDA Govt. at the Centre under leadership of Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi and at the State under Chief Minister, Shri. Sarbananda Sonowal shying away from introducing the Bill in the Parliament to translate, the said Bill into an Act? We therefore appeal to all Koch-Rajbongshi organizations to boycott all such talks with the Govt. until it is made publicly clear that the said Bill granting S.T(P) status to the Koch-Rajbongshi community will be introduced within a declared time frame.
Vikram Rajkhowa Arup Jyoti Das