Pro-talk Ulfa faction to lead ST movement for six communities

Guwahati, Feb 25 (IANS) The Ulfa faction, which is currently pursuing peace talks with the government, on Thursday decided to lead the movement for Scheduled Tribes status for six ethnic communities in Assam.

The Ulfa faction led by its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, which has been negotiating peace since 2010, will meet all the ethnic communities in a convention next month here to chalk out plans to carry forward the join movement for ST status.

“For years, the six communities have been fighting for ST status separately and now we will lead them for ST status to be accorded by the centre and protect the interests of all the indigenous communities.”

“We will try to convince those organisations who opposed the demand for ST status for the six communities,” a senior leader of the pro-talks group, who was released on bail in 2008, said.

Six indigenous communities including Tai Ahom, Moran, Muttock, Chutia, Koch Rajbongshi and the tea tribes have been demanding for years that the Centre accord ST status to them saying that their ethnic identity and culture is facing threat due to migration from neighbouring Bangladesh.

The ST status would bring reservation in jobs and other benefits.

Representatives of the six communities had met the Ulfa leaders here on December 22 last year and requested them to lead the movement and put pressure on the Centre.

The Ulfa group’s decision to lead the ST movement comes at a time when the ruling Congress in Assam and BJP are engaged in a blame game over the issue.

While Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the state government moved the centre repeatedly for fulfilling the demands of the six communities.

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