Nearly 5,000 Adivasis staged a rail blockade at the Kokrajhar railway station in western Assam to demand their inclusion in the scheduled tribe (ST) category on Monday morning, disrupting the movement of trains in the state.
The agitation was held under the aegis of the Adivasi National Convention Committee (ANCC), a conglomerate of 13 Adivasi organisations.
The rail blockade, which began at 8 am, affected the movement of several trains in the Northeast Frontier (NF) section, including the Dibrugarh-New Delhi Brahmaputra Mail and the Tinsukia-New Delhi Avadh Assam Express. “We had to divert many trains due to the agitation. Another agitation at the New Cooch Behar railway station in West Bengal, which has been going on for the last two days, also caused inconvenience to travellers,” said NF Railway spokesperson N Bhattacharyya.
Security personnel were also deployed in and around the Kokrajhar railway station to prevent untoward incidents.
The Centre has been considering according the ST status to six tribal communities in Assam, including the Adivasis, Koch Rajbongshis, Chutiyas, Morans, Motoks and Tai Ahoms. Though talks are being held between the state and central governments and representatives of the six communities in this regard, the matter is stuck at the Register General of India’s office.
“Adivasis fall in the ST category in other states of the country but not in Assam. Both the BJP and the Congress have issued promise after promise for according us the ST status, but the situation continues to remain the same,” said Bir Singh Munda, a member of the ANCC.
The Adivasi community comprises various sub-tribes, including the Mundas, Kharias, Orangs and Bheels. Many of them were brought to the region during the British Raj to work in the state’s tea plantations.