NEW DELHI, Dec 22 � While the Centre was non-commital on according Koch-Rajbongshi and other five communities Schedule Tribe (ST) status, Tribal Affairs Minister, V. Kishore Chandra Deo held out a ray of hope by promising to consult the State Governemnts on removing the discrepency in the Scheduled List.
The Minister was responding to Members in the Rajya Sabha on the demand for decleration of ST list on a national basis during a discussion on passage of the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2011 on Thursday, morning. The MPs pointed out that while Koch-Rajbongshi were STs in West Bengal are in OBC List in Assam.
Members said that the List should be done on a national basis because certain communities are recognised as Scheduled Tribes in one State and Scheduled Castes in another State or OBC in another State.
Stating that he was also wondering how to go about this particular problem,Kishore Singh Deo said the issue concerns the States. The State Governments have classified them as either Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes. �It is not I who have done that. But I agree that this is a discrepancy,� he said.
Probably it would be better if we can get rid of this, if possible. �I shall consult the State Governments and maybe if it is necessary I will have a national conference involving the people who are concerned and then ultimately Parliament will have to decide. �I would be too glad to see that this kind of discrepancy does not exist within one country,� Kishore Singh Deo assured.
On the plea for grant of ST status to Koch-Rajbongshi community, the Tribal Affairs Minister said he would look into how the community once included in the ST list was brought into the OBC list. �I have to check the facts as to why it was again removed from the declaration. It�s in the OBC list now. And because it is in the OBC list now, the question arises as to why it should be included in the Scheduled Tribes List,� he said.
Earlier, several MPs from Assam including Biren Baishya, Kumar Deepak Das and Bhubaneswar Kalita intervened. The MPs made a plea for inclusion of the Koch-Rajbongshi community in the ST list along with other five communities.
Referring to the case of the six communities of Assam, Baishya said that Tai-Ahom, Koch Rajbongshi, Moran, Mottak, Chutia and Tiwa communities have been struggling for ST status for long. In the Narasimha Rao Government, Koch Rajbongshi community in Assam was declared tribal community in 1996 and again in 1997 through Ordinance. The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha and then it was sent to the Standing Committee and the Select Committee, adding the Assam assembly has passed a resolution in this regard, Baishya said.
But Deo reiterated that mere passing of a Resolution by an Assembly is not enough for me to include that in the list of Scheduled Tribes. �It will have to go through a procedure. It will have to go to the Registrar General of India,� he said.