A forum of six communities demanding Scheduled Tribe status enforced a 48-hour shutdown affecting normal life in parts of Assam since Monday.The police reported sporadic incidents of violence and disruption of communication in eastern, central and western Assam where the six communities — Moran, Muttock, Tai-Ahom, Kock-Rajbongshi, Chutia and Adivasi (‘tea tribe’) — are in the majority.These communities currently enjoy Other Backwards Class status. The OBCs’ share in Assam’s quota pie is 27%, while the STs (plains), Scheduled Castes and STs (hills) have 10%, 7% and 5% share respectively.Two-decade-old issueThe ST status demand by the six communities has been a major issue for more than two decades now. The Bharatiya Janata Party had promised them tribal status before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.The last meeting between the Centre and the representatives of the six communities was held in April 2017. Leaders of these communities said they are still awaiting a report that was to be submitted by June 2017.The trigger for the two-day shutdown from 5 a.m. on Monday was the alleged snub by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh during a meeting with leaders of the six communities in New Delhi on July 20. “The Minister came and went without saying much except that our issue would be resolved soon,” said Aswini Chetia, adviser of All-Assam Tai-Ahom Students’ Union, adding that neither Mr. Singh, nor Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju “seemed interested in knowing about our demands”. The six communities would organise a rally on July 30 demanding the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fulfil the BJP’s commitment to grant them ST status. Other tribes waryThe existing ST communities in Assam are opposed to the move to grant tribal status to the six ethnic groups. The Coordination Committee of the Tribal Organisations of Assam (CCTOA), representing Bodo, Rabha, Tiwa, Karbi, Dimasa, Mising, Sonowal, Hajong, Garo and Deuri tribes, had in 2011 written to the Singla Committee that the proposal to grant ST status to six “advances and populous OBC communities” was “a conspiracy to destroy/exterminate the existing STs of Assam”.The Centre had set up the committee headed by Mahesh Kumar Singla, then Special Secretary (internal security) in the Home Ministry, on March 1, 2011, to look into the demand of the six communities and its fallout.The CCTOA had said that the Registrar General of India had rejected the demand of the six communities eight times between 1981 and 2006. The Centre did grant ST status to the Koch-Rajbongshis for six months in 1996, but it was revoked after it was found that 33 of 42 medical seats and 17 of 21 engineering seats apart from other courses reserved for STs had been taken away by the Koch-Rajbongshis.Tribal-majority State?Social scientists say granting ST status to the six communities would make Assam a tribal majority State and would entitle it to special safeguards that might help in solving complications arising out of alleged illegal influx into the State affecting its demographic balance.If granted reservation, the number of Assembly seats reserved for tribal people is expected to jump from the existing 16 to about 85-90 in the 126-seat House by way of fresh delimitation of constituencies.
Pacer S Sreesanth may be brought into the Indian team in place of injured Ashish Nehra for the summit clash against Sri Lanka in the World Cup cricket final in Mumbai on Saturday.Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni also issued a veiled warning to the Sri Lankans saying the home team has not played to its fullest potential and “there is plenty to come” and was prepared to take on veteran spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.With swing bowler Ashish Nehra virtually ruled out of the grand finale due to a multiple finger fracture he suffered in the semifinal clash against Pakistan, Dhoni appeared to indicate his preference in the toss up between S Sreesanth and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.”Ashish is most likely ruled out he’s got multiple fracture on one of his fingers,” he said adding that the choice could be between Sreesanth and Ashwin.”If you see the Mumbai track there’s a bit of pace and bounce for the seamers initially and there is a bit of reverse swing going. The third seamer can have an impact on the game.An extra seamer means I am able to manoeuvre the bowlers,” the skipper said at the pre-match press conference,” Dhoni said.The skipper, who had surprised everyone by keeping Ashwin out of the Mohali encounter after his good performance in two matches, said “With a spinner, if you have three spinners along with a part-timer you don’t have room for manoeuvre. But whatever opportunity Ashwin has got, irrespective of where he has fared, he has done really well.advertisement”We have confidence in him but we are not clear about whether to go with three seamers or two seamers and one extra spinner,” he said.Sreesanth had not played after the tournament opener on February 19 against Bangladesh at Mirpur, and asked how he can slip into his groove after such a lengthy absence from the middle, Dhoni said it can be done if one looked at tomorrow’s final as just another game.”Don’t look at it as the final but as another game. Sree has done well for us most of the games he has played, he has done well. He’s one character who can definitely swing the ball and get you early wickets. Choosing one individual over other is difficult but let’s hope whoever gets chosen will perform at his best,” he said.”Unfortunately, we have not been able to give him more chances to play. Even in the first game, he played I thought he did not bowl badly. After that we gave chances to other individuals which I think were needed at that point of time.It’s more about who suits the condition more. Let’s hope whoever plays just performs,” said Dhoni.- With PTI inputs