The Birsa Commando Force (BCF), which has been in a ceasefire with the government since 2004, today sought the creation of a satellite autonomous council for the Adivasi community in Assam.
BCF commander-in-chief Birsing Munda told that he sought the creation of the council as a population of the nearly 70 lakh Adivasis was scattered across the state.
The Adivasi leader claimed that the Assam Cobra Militants, another pro-peace militant outfit representing the community, and the All Adivasi Students Association of Assam were also in favour of such a council.
Formed in 1997, the BCF, which has around 550 cadres, has been demanding a separate Adivasi land, Scheduled Tribe (ST) status and security for the community.
“Since getting the ST status will be a time-consuming process, we would in the interim settle for a satellite autonomous council which will help safeguard our land and political rights. The government wants us to join the mainstream. One way of starting it is by giving the community the reins of its people, just as has been the case with the Bodos, Karbis, Tiwa and Deuri communities. The rest will follow,” Munda said on way to attend a five-day workshop organised by the Indian Confederation of Indigenous and Tribal People here from this afternoon.
Assam already has six satellite autonomous councils for the Rabha-Hasong, Mising, Tiwa, Sonowal-Kachari, Thengal-Kachari and Deuri communities, besides the three autonomous councils governing North Cachar Hills (for Dimasas), Karbi Anglong (Karbis) and the Bodoland Territorial Council (for Bodos) with fixed territory.
The councils were set up to resolve the growing demands of these communities for self-rule.
However, most of these have been in the limelight for the wrong reasons, mostly related to financial anomalies.
He admitted that these existing councils at times get embroiled in controversies but these still remain the best suited for the respective communities.
“Go to the Bodoland Territorial Council or Karbi Anglong. There has been a marked change in the overall profile of the said areas after the councils came into being. It will still be better than the development councils Dispur has proposed,” he said.
The state government is trying to operationalise seven development councils for the Morans, Motaks, Ahoms, Chutias, Koch-Rajbongshis, tea tribes and Gorkhas. On June 29, chief minister Tarun Gogoi announced the setting up of two more development councils for Sarania-Kacharis and Amri Karbis.
“We had backed the formation of a political party in the recently-concluded general elections but it did not have the desired impact because we are not politically and socially aware. Therefore, a council appears to be the best bet for the community at large in the prevailing situation. Since we are scattered across the state, pockets where we have a sizeable population can be identified to elect representatives to the council. The elected members can frame and implement the policies best suited for the community,” Munda said.
The BCF has sounded out the government officials who are part of the ceasefire-monitoring group. However, there has been no response from Dispur so far.