Guwahati, 11 January, 2019:
Assam on Friday witnessed a second bandh within three days amid the rising agitation against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. This time it was the Coordination Committee of the Tribal Organisations of Assam (CCTOA) who organized the bandh across Assam.
However, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding the reason behind the bandh as most of the people believe that it has been called to oppose the Citizenship Bill or the tribal organsiations’ displeasure with the government over the Bill.
But as a responsible media house, it is our duty to provide correct information and accurate data to our audience. Making it clear in the first hand, the bandh has not been called in connection with the Citizenship Bill. There is a bigger matter of concern that has compelled the CCTOA to call the bandh.
Here is a phone conversation of Aditya Khaklari, General Secretary of All Assam Tribal Sangha with InsideNE:
It all started with the government’s decision to pass a Constitution Scheduled Tribes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 to provide special status to six communities of Assam, i.e. Tai-Ahom, Matak, Moran, Koch Rajbongshi and the tea tribes. The proposal was wholeheartedly welcomed by these six tribes but agitated by the other 14 communities of Assam that already have the Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
The major concerns for these communities are that allowing the special status to these six tribes will hamper the ones existing in the ST status. The CCTOA believes that these six tribes are far more advanced economically, politically, socially, education wise and are far more populous than the rest. If the Bill is passed, political representation of the existing tribes will be diminished and these six tribes will enjoy reserved benefits, allowing them to compete from Panchayat elections to autonomous council elections to any other elections under reserved categories.
The bandh has been called to oppose this decision as the CCTOA believes that this is a bigger conspiracy of the government to divide the tribes and secure their vote bank as these six tribes doesn’t fulfill the requirements of benefiting from the quota. The CCTOA also believes that government is forcing to convert Assam into a ST dominated State as the Bill will convert 2/3rd of the State into special quota.
This is now turning into a major issue as Assam is slowly turning into dilapidated zone by the politicians for their own vote benefits. If the government can introduce a Bill overnight, why can’t the government take simple steps to safeguard the interest of the existing communities in the Special status quota along with the other six tribes?