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NEW DELHI: The central government is committed to providing ST status to six communities in Assam and it is working in this direction, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said today.
"We are committed to grant ST status to six OBC communities in Assam. The central government has already set up a committee to examine the proposal and it is working on it," he told reporters here.
The committee, headed by Special Secretary (Internal Security) in the Home Ministry Mahesh Kumar Singla, is consulting Assam government and all other stake-holders and examining various issues for suggesting the modalities for the required reservations and shifting the existing reservation for these communities from OBC to ST.
It will also protect the interests of existing tribals and frame a mechanism to ensure fairness of reservations within these six communities and related security considerations, a Home Ministry official said.
Rijiju had earlier said that granting of Scheduled Tribes status to the six communities — Moran, Muttock, Tai Ahom, Koch Rajbongshi, Sootea and Tea Tribes — was a political promise of the BJP and the NDA government.
BJP-led alliance had assumed power in Assam after recent assembly elections in the state.
The pro-talk faction of ULFA too had been seeking ST status to the six communities of Assam.
The grant of tribal status to these six communities will lead to 50 per cent population of Assam becoming tribal or Assam turning into a tribal-dominated state.
It will also facilitate fresh delimitation of assembly constituencies and significant increase in the number of ST seats in the 126-member Assam assembly. Assam currently has 16 ST seats.
The fear of indigenous communities that illegal immigrants from Bangladesh would soon usurp political power would diminish if 50 per cent Assembly seats are reserved for ST when Assam becomes a tribal-dominated state.
(With PTI inputs)