Paban Singh Ghatowar
Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) president Paban Singh Ghatowar (right) addressing the media at Dibrugarh. File image - Northeast Now

Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) on Thursday said they will observe ‘Betrayal Day’ on January 23, 2019 for non-inclusion of 73 tea tribes in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category.

Talking to reporters at Dibrugarh on Thursday, ACMS president Paban Singh Ghatowar on Thursday alleged that out of 109 tea communities in Assam 73 were not included in the ST list, but only 36 were included in the list.

“We will observe ‘Betrayal Day’ on January 23 as a mark of protest. Rallies will be taken out and effigies will be burnt. It is an open fact that the other five communities belong to the ruling class, whereas the tea community belongs to the workers’ class. We are not against the other communities but at the same time, we must not be discriminated,” said former Central Minister Ghatowar.

Also read: Assam: Union government to grant ST status to 6 communities

“We have a strength of 80 lakh tea tribe people in Assam and compared to others they are backward economically, socially and in education sector. Compared to 72 pc overall literacy, only 46 pc of the tea tribe people are literate,” Ghatowar added.

The Union Cabinet recently approved Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to six communities of Assam namely Tai Ahom, Koch Rajbongshi, Chutia, Tea Tribes, Moran and Matak. Union Home Minister Rajanth Singh said a Bill in this regard would be introduced in the Parliament soon.

Ghatowar, however, welcomed the Government decision for granting ST status to the six ethnic groups of Assam.

“Why the Government has discriminated tea tribes people. They are socially, economically and politically poor compared to other groups. Most of the six ethnic groups are ruler class but the tea tribes are the service class. The tribes have been exploited since the British rule in India, still, they are exploited,” Ghatowar said.

The ACMS president added, “It has been a long-standing demand. But while rest of the communities like Tai Ahom, Koch Rajbongshi, Chutia, Moran and Matak will be awarded ST status as a whole, only one-fourth of the tea tribes residing in Assam will be granted ST status. We have 109 tea tribes out of which only 36 have been recommended for ST status. This is highly discriminatory. The BJP Government is trying to play a divide and rule policy.”

Avik Chakraborty

Avik Chakraborty is Northeast Now Correspondent in Dibrugarh. He can be reached at: babs8oct@gmail.com

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