NEW DELHI, Jan 12 - In a move aimed at pacifying the existing tribal groups, the Centre today directed the State Government to constitute a group of ministers (GoM) within two-three days to recommend measures for protection of rights of existing tribal communities, besides deciding facilities to be given to new STs.
The decision was taken at a meeting that was attended by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, State ministers Himanta Biswa Sarma and Chandan Brahma, BTC chief Hagrama Mohilary and Rajya Sabha MP Biswajit Daimary.
Official sources said the meeting also decided that there will be three categories of STs in Assam – Plains, Hills and Others. Quotas will be separated category-wise, while the present ST reservation quota will be kept as it is, sources said.
An upset BPF rushed to the national capital to express its anguish over the sudden decision of the NDA government to grant ST status to six communities of Assam without consulting them. They were also not happy with the grant of the package for the BTAD without keeping them in confidence.
“We are an NDA ally and at least they should have kept us in the loop and we could have given our inputs. The announcement by the Home Minister took us by surprise,” a senior Bodo leader told this newspaper.
The Centre had announced a decision to establish a Bodo museum-cum-language and cultural centre, modernisation of the All India Radio station and Doordarshan Kendra at Kokrajhar and introduction of a superfast train named Aronai Express.
In a memorandum submitted to the Union Home Minister, Biswajit Daimary urged the Centre to take necessary steps to start and complete the projects at the earliest. He further sought allocation of funds for setting up the museum-cum-language-cultural centre and modernisation of the AIR and DD stations in the interim budget to be presented in the coming session of the Parliament.
Later, taking to newsmen, Hagrama Mohilary said they have urged the Union Home Minister to ensure that there is no conflict between the existing STs and those who are to be given ST status. The Cabinet sub-committee that would be constituted will submit its report within a month, he added.
The Centre will also invite representatives of the six communities for further talks to deliberate on their rights, he said, adding the rights of the existing tribals will not be harmed.
The BTC chief, however, declined to talk about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, arguing that the issue has to be first discussed within the party. “We have so far not expressed our views and the meeting today did not discuss the issue,” he said.
There was apprehension among the tribal groups that the Bill tabled without consulting them may lead to curtailment of their rights, which has now been allayed, Daimary said, adding the Bill may be further amended if the State Government makes fresh recommendations.