Adivasis’ protest over ST status hits train movement on NFR

Kokrajhar: A passenger train was cancelled and rail services were disrupted for over four hours today as activists of the Adivasi National Co-ordination Committee blocked the tracks at Kokrajhar railway station to demand Scheduled Tribe status for several ethnic communities in Assam.

Around 5,000 activists of various tribal organisations got down on the tracks at 6am today, raising slogans.

The blockade was lifted around 10am after the administration assured that they would arrange for tripartite talks.

The Alipurduar-Kamakhya Inter-city Express was cancelled while the Bongaigaon-New Jalpaiguri passenger train was rescheduled to 10.30am from 7.30am. The Saraighat Express was halted at Fakiragram junction while the Dibrugarh-New Delhi Rajdhani Express was halted at New Bongaigaon junction.

The committee’s general secretary, Prem Hasda, alleged that the proposals for granting ST status were shot down because the state government had provided wrong information to the Centre and the Registrar General of India (RGI).

He said the three-member expert committee had submitted its report to the Assam government without properly studding the ethnographic report, hence the RGI denied ST status to the communities.

“The ruling government has deprived the Adivasis of the state and furnished wrong information by terming them tea tribes,” Hasda said.

Union tribal affairs minister V. Kishore Chandra Deo, in reply to a question by Assam Rajya Sabha MP Santiuse Kujur, had recently said that the communities did not fulfil the five criteria required for identification as Scheduled Tribes. These include indications of distinctive culture, primitive traits, geographical isolation, shyness of contact with the community at large and overall backwardness.