GUWAHATI: The Centre is likely to face resistance in granting Schedule Tribe (Hill) status to the Bodos living outside Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) as part of third Bodo peace accord.
The District Congress Committees of the three hill districts of Karbi Anglong, West Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, said as the Bodo Kacharis’ settlement in the three districts was a “consequence of recent migration”, they could not be deemed ST (Hill) and granting them the same under Clause 6.1 of the accord would “unsettle the geo-political environment of the already fragile hill districts”.
In a joint representation to the Centre, signed by Congress leaders Khorsing Engti, Nirmal Langthasa, Dr Mongve Rongpi etc, the committees said historically and geographically, the Bodo Kacharis have always been a ST community living in Assam’s plains and as such, they were conferred the status of ST (Plains).
“The Bodo Kacharis living in these three hill districts are already enjoying all benefits of ST (Plains) wherein they have an elected member to the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council. Generally, the Bodo Kacharis, as a tribal community, are far more advanced in every aspect than the indigenous tribals of this region namely Karbi, Dimasa, Naga, Kuki, Hmar, Baite, Hrangkhol etc. Thus, conferring them ST (Hill) status would be a major setback to these tribes,” the committees wrote in the representation.
They reminded that when the Centre had signed the second Bodo peace accord with erstwhile rebel group Bodo Liberation Tigers in 2003, the Centre had refrained from granting ST (Hill) status to the Bodos after a joint delegation from the hill districts had lodged a protest against the move before then Union Home Minister LK Advani.
The Congress committees lamented that the Narendra Modi government decided on granting St (Hill) status to the Bodos without holding any consultations with the stakeholders of these hill districts.
“Therefore, on behalf of the original tribes of the three hill districts of Assam and the people, we, the three District Congress Committees, earnestly request the Central and state governments to revoke the contentious Clause 6.1 from the Bodo Peace Accord and implement Article 244(A) of the Constitution which is the long-standing demand of the three hill districts,” they said.