Greater Kamta United Forum demands ST status, separate state

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New Delhi, Mar 8 (UNI) The Greater Kamta United Forum has urged the government to grant scheduled tribe status to the Cooch Rajbanshi in the original Kamtapuri region and a separate state comprising the entire North Bengal and Lower Assam.

A high level delegation of the forum led by its President Atul Ray and advisor Ranaditya Barman have already submitted a four page memorandum to UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and leader of the opposition L K Advani.

Talking to the newspersons here last evening, they said in case the demand for ST status cannot be met, they should be granted Backward/Most Other Backward Class status but with all benefits accruing under tribal status.

The Koch-Rajbanshi community constitutes a major bulk of the tribal population of Assam. Ethnologically, they belong to the Bodo group of the great Indo-Mongoloid stock and linguistically they belong to the Tibeto-Burman family. They are educationally and economically backward and socially unprotected.

They were granted ST status for one year during 1996-97 and two of its members were elected to the Assam Assembly, However, this status was abruptly withdrawn without giving any reason. The Rajbanshi still enjoy tribal status in the entire North Bengal and Lower Assam. Scores of memoranda from different organisations of the community had been submitted to the Union Government with all necessary documents at different times, but the process had been delayed for reasons not known, they said.

The Greater Kamta United Forum comprises Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party, All Koch-Rajbanshi Students' Union and Kamtapur Progressive Party.

UNI XC NK KN1614

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