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Barak tribal development member flays AATS

By Correspondent

KARIMGANJ, July 27 � Jerome R Khawzal, member of the Barak Valley Hill Tribes Development Council, in a statement, expressed concern over the activities of the All Assam Tribal Sangha (AATS), Cachar district unit after it raised allegations against Ngursunthang, chairman and Warles Suchiang, vice-chairman of the BVHTDC regarding misappropriation and misuse of funds meant for the hill tribes of the Barak Valley.

Khawzal disclosed that since 2006-2010 (upto March 31), the council received a total of Rs 1.80 crore from the State Government which was already utilised for development of various tribal communities. But a some of Rs 55 lakh sanctioned during the last financial year has not been fully utilised as work is in progress.

In the allegation made by the Cachar district unit of the Tribal Sangha, it stated that several crores of rupees in the name of development have been siphoned off. It appears that only Rs 1.25 crore had already been spent on the development of hill tribes in the three districts of Barak Valley. He further said that during the last three years, the council distributed 200 sewing machines and 2,300 mosquito nets to the villagers.

According to the statement, allocation of funds to BVHTDC is not sufficient to meet the demand of the hill tribes people living in the Barak Valley. Several works like sanitary latrines, ring-wells, culverts, inter-village roads, community halls etc. were taken up for the benefit of the tribal people. Work programmes are adopted and approved in the council meeting and estimates and plans are prepared by the JE and technically sanctioned by the engineer of the government department not below the rank of the executive engineer.

The chairman and the vice-chairman have never interfered in execution of work if a complaint or suggestions is submitted to the chairman. It may also be pointed out that complaints like Cachar district unit Tribal Sangha leaders have never submitted any proposal to the Govt of Assam for upgrade of the council and providing ST status to the hill tribes communities living under the jurisdiction of the council. It is also found that whenever and wherever they submitted representation to the Government, they demanded removal of the chairman and the vice chairman.

The statement alleged that the leaders of the Cachar unit of the Tribal Sangha are not in the movement for hill tribes communities and ST status (Hills) which has been demanded by Cachar Hill People Federation (CHPC) and Cachar Hill Tribes Congress Communities Committee (I). It may be recalled here that Ngursunthang, the present chairman who was also the president of CHTCCC(I), contacted T Sangkhum, president of CHPF who led hundreds of CHPF volunteers in the jungle of Bhuban hill forest area in the later part of 1995 and the CHPF volunteers excepted his invitation to come out overground and started peace negotiations in Shillong and Guwahati between the representatives of Govt of Assam led by BC Kalita, the then IGP (SB) and CHPF leaders led by T Sangkhum, former chairman of the council.

Ngursungthang was used to bring 417 CHPF volunteers to surrender and accordingly the surrender ceremony was held at Silchar Circuit House before the DGP, Ranju Das.

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