|Non-tribals oppose RHAC polls|
MIRZA, March 1 – Close on the heels of the State Government declaring elections to the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council (RHAC) on April 30, non-tribal bodies here are determined not to allow any polls in the RHAC at any cost if the villages with non-tribal majority were not excluded from the proposed draft delimitation of constituencies for the autonomous council, indicating towards another bloodbath in the Rabha Hasong area.
It may be mentioned here that the draft delimitation of constituencies for the RHAC has already been announced and over 442 villages having majority of non-Rabha communities have been included in the exercise. The government is taking applications from the people (villagers) who are objecting to get included in the RHAC. Friday was the last date of submission of objection through applications and the final draft delimitation of constituencies for the RHAC is expected to be announced on March 8.
“In Kamrup district, over 135 villages with non-tribal majority and 125 villages with Garo majority, have been included in the draft delimitation of constituencies for RHAC, while Goalpara district has 84 villages with non-tribal majority and 98 villages with Garo majority, which must be excluded from the draft. The non-tribal and Garo people have been submitting hundreds of applications requesting for exclusion of their villages from the exercise for their future security and protection of their rights that have to be carefully addressed by the government and if such villages are not excluded from the proposed draft, then the council elections will never be allowed at any cost,” said Sahjahan Ali, the president of the Non-Rabha Coordination Forum.
The Forum, which is planning huge public rallies at Boko in Kamrup district and at Bhalukdubi in Goalpara district early March, has also asked the government to exclude all non-Rabha villages (having less than 50 per cent non-tribal and Garo population) from the RHAC in addition to the villages having non-tribal and Garo majority (having 50 per cent and above such population ). “We have asked the government to bifurcate all non-tribal villages/areas from the RHAC in order to avoid any future dispute and harassment to the non-tribal and Garo people in the council,” Ali said.
He said under Section 6 of RHAC (Amended) Act, 2005 the non-tribal people will lose land right in the RHAC and they will have to give tax to the council for their houses, domesticated animals and so on, which is never acceptable. He said the non-tribal people will also lose their political power in the RHAC as “out of 36 constituencies, 30 would be reserved for the tribal people with the remaining six being open for all.” It will mean that the non-tribal people will have “no role to play in the affairs of the RHAC,” he added.
Meanwhile, the president of the Non-Tribal Students’ Union, Nayan Saloi, said that they have suspended the economic blockade which was proposed to start from today in the RHAC area in view of the ongoing HSLC and Higher Secondary examinations and also to see what actions the government will take to address their grievances (exclusion of non-tribal villages from the RHAC).
The Non-Tribal Students’ Union launched two agitation programmes last week that had disturbed the normal life in the area. They blocked the National Highway-37 on February 25 at Bamunigaon in Kamrup district in which a number of vehicles were damaged. They also took out a protest rally with over 500 bikes and 100 other vehicles demanding exclusion of non-tribal villages from the RHAC.
It may be mentioned here that Rabha Hasong area is the centre of conflict in the State in connection with the RHAC, while two organisations – one is a conglomerate of 34 Rabha bodies and the other consists of several separate non-tribal bodies with one aim – are on a virtual war and if the government does not handle the situation properly and carefully, it might well go beyond control. The panchayat elections, which were held in the State on February 12, were opposed by the Rabha Hasong Joint Movement Committee and in the subsequent poll violence, 24 people, mostly Rabhas, lost their lives, while several public and private properties were lost and damaged.