Grant ST status tea adivasis: AABP

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New Delhi, Dec 2: The All Assam Bengali Parishad (AABP) has urged the Centre as well as the state government to grant Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the tea tribes of Assam, whose population is estimated around 40 lakhs.

AABP chief convenor Chitto Pal said the Centre and the state government should grant ST status to the tea adivasis in order to maintain peace in the state.

''If their demands are not met, the tea adivasis have decided to go in for mass struggle from December 15, which can lead to violence in at least five districts of Assam -- Dibrugarh, Sibsagar, Tinsukia, Golaghat and Sonitpur -- as these districts are dominated by the tribes,'' he added.

He said, ''If the tea tribes go in for mass struggle, they will be supported by four other tribes, Matak, Koch-Rajvanshi, Ahom, and Chutia, which constitute, a population of around 70 lakh. If the tea tribes and the four communities join together, it would create havoc in the state.

''Therefore, in order to maintain peace and law and order, the state government should convince the Centre for an early granting of the ST status.'' A population of around 65 lakh Bengalis is spread over these five districts, which could become the target if any violence breaks out in these five districts, he added.

Mr Pal said West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's statement, that he ''would not allow West Bengal to be converted into Assam'', has already led to serious political reactions in the state.

The Assam state Congress has not only condemned Mr Bhattacharya's comment, but also burned his effigy in Guwahati.

Mr Pal requested the West Bengal politicians not to make any statement on Assam which could lead to serious problems for the Bengali population in this state.

He said in the violence, following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, officially, 66 Bengalis were killed, whereas, unofficially, the death toll was placed over 100. However, not a single West Bengal politician made even a condolence message. So they should refrain from making any statement now.

UNI

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