President of All Assam Koch Association,Prabhat Banai Koch speaking at the awareness meet at Kalaigaon in Udalguri on August 18, 2019. Image: Northeast Now

The All Assam Koch Association(AAKA), All Assam Koch Students’ Union (AAKSU), All Assam Koch Yuva Association (AAKYA) and Koch Developmental Council (KDC) have decried the lack of awareness among the Koch people owing to their historical roots which trace back to Mongoloid  (Sino-Bhot) race or ethnic group.

In a public awareness meet held at Tokonkata Bishnu Mandir premises near Kalaigaon in Assam’s Udalguri district on Sunday, the leaders of the organizations opined that the Koch people possess a distinct language, attire and culture and alleged that the Rajbongshis were imposing theirs on them and posing an impediment to the community’s development.

The organization echoed that the Koch-Rajbongshis merged into a single tribe in 1912, with the formation of the Koch-Rajbongshi Kshatriya Sanmilani.

Historically, the origins of the Rajbongshis are shrouded in mystery.

Some consider the tribe to have the same cultural and etymological origin as the Kochs, while others differ.

“There is no such tribe as Koch-Rajbongshis, the Kochs being original inhabitants of Assam, while the Rajbongshis have migrated from Bengal,” president of All Assam Koch Yuva Association ( AAKYA) , Parag Koch said at the meet.

“We have our own distinct culture, language, attire and customs. The Rajbongshis merged with the Koch people and have created problems for the development of the tribe, including their legal recognization as a Scheduled Tribe,” he added.

“They are imposing their language and culture on the Koch people. The Rajbongshis enjoy Scheduled Caste status in Bengal. Now they want Scheduled Tribe status in Assam by identifying themselves as Koch-Rajbongshis,” he further said.

“The Koch community was given Scheduled Tribe status in Meghalaya in 1987 while the Rajbonshis were not,” he added.

“In Bangladesh, the Koch people have retained their culture, language and traditions as the Koch tribe,” said Prabhat Banai Koch, president of All Assam Koch Association (AAKA).

“The tribe enjoys OBC status in Assam. We exhort the Koch youths to work towards preservation of our culture and place the legitimate demand of Koch community,” he further said.

Others who spoke on the meet included Parimal Koch of All Assam Koch Association (AAKA).

The Koch organizations also made a clarion call to the Koch people to boycott the yellow gamosa and adopt traditional multi-coloured dresses like sokatharai and kambang.

It also urged the Kochs to practise and spread the original Koch language of Tibeto-Burmese origin while setting aside the Aryan-origin Bengali-like language of the Rajbongshis.

Shajid Khan

Shajid Khan is Northeast Now Correspondent in Udalguri. He can be reached at: itsshajidkhan@gmail.com

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