Laxmi, who was disrobed, thrashed and paraded naked by an unruly mob while she was participating in a rally demanding ST status here 12 years ago, said justice in her case is still pending. “Almost 12 years have passed but those who humiliated me are yet to be brought to justice. Besides, over 60 lakh tea garden workers of my community haven’t got the ST status,” she said.
On Tuesday, Laxmi had led a protest march at Biswanath, some 230 km from here, and announced a series of agitations till justice is delivered. In January, Union home minister Rajnath Singh had said the Union Cabinet has approved the proposal and a bill to this effect will be brought soon.
“During a poll campaign in Assam in April, 2014, Modi had said his government would grant ST status to six communities of Assam if he is voted back to power. And now, when his term is ending, the government has come up with the same rhetoric,” alleged Laxmi. She has asked other Adivasi groups not to get fooled by the Centre’s promises and join hands in demanding their rights.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to the state earlier, had assured that the government would grant ST status to six ethnic communities, including the Adivasis, without affecting the rights of existing ST communities who are opposing the government’s move. “We are not going to settle for anything less. We want complete benefits under the ST status. Therefore, I ask each Adivasi group not to compromise and continue our fight till justice is served,” she said in the rally.
Though Adivasi communities across India enjoy ST status, the community doesn’t enjoy the privilege in the state as the list of ST communities is usually state-specific.
In Assam, Koch Rajbongshi, Tai Ahom, Chutiya, Matak, Moran and the tea tribes have been demanding ST status for decades.