GUWAHATI, Jan 8 � The delay of the State Government to go for a conclusive and amicable decision on the Sixth Schedule tangle is believed to have resulted in the present fratricidal clashes between the Rabhas and the Garos in the Assam-Meghalaya areas.
It needs mention here that the All Rabha Students� Union (ARSU) has been demanding Sixth Schedule status to the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council and elections to the council, while the non-Rabhas living in the Rabha Hasong areas have been demanding exclusion of some villages from the council area.
The ARSU has been resorting to repeated bandhs and economic blockades for the past about four years for the fulfillment of its Sixth Schedule demand. This has been resented by the non-Rabha groups, particularly by the Garos. All such developments resulted in growing acrimony and local level skirmishes between the two groups in some areas of Assam.
The Assam Government has set up a Cabinet Sub-Committee to study the Sixth Schedule demand of the Rabhas, Tiwas and the Misings. The Cabinet Sub-Committee in its report sometime back, suggested granting of Sixth Schedule status to the Rabha, Tiwa and Mising Autonomous Councils. But the State Cabinet is yet to endorse the Sub-Committee recommendation on the issue.
Leading personalities belonging to the Rabha as well as the non-Rabha communities living in the Rabha Hasong areas have pleaded for an early and amicable solution to the issue to bring an end to the mutual tension among the peoples living in the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council areas. But in doing so, all major communities living in the Rabha Hasong areas should be taken into confidence, they opined.
The former Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council, Dr Sarat Rabha said that at this moment it is more important to restore the mutual belief between the Rabhas and the Garos, besides instilling a sense of security among the people of the two groups living in Assam and Meghalaya areas.
The Assam Government should prevail upon the Meghalaya Government as well as the Central Government to initiate steps for ensuring the safety and security of the life and property of the Rabhas living in the Meghalaya areas. At the same time, it is also essential to take all sorts of measures for ensuring safety and security to the life and property of the Garos living in Assam areas, said Dr Rabha.
These appeals were made to the State Government�s delegation led by Revenue Minister Dr Bhumidhar Barman, which on Thursday visited the affected people at the camps set up in Assam areas for sheltering them. The delegation comprised ministers Pramila Rani Brahma and Nurjamal Sarkar, besides Dr Barman. It was accompanied by Dr Rabha and a joint delegation of the Garo and Rabha leaders.
The delegation visited the Kukurkata, Noapara and Bheltarghat camps. The joint delegation of the Garo and Rabha leaders accompanied the Government delegation to the shelter camps in a bid to restore mutual belief and instill a sense of security among the affected people, said Dr Rabha.
He expressed the apprehension that if immediate measures are not taken to contain the violent incidents in Meghalaya, the Garos living in the Rabha Hasong areas may also face retaliatory attacks. Already reports of such attacks on some Garo-dominated pockets have started pouring in, said Dr Rabha.
Meanwhile, the Tura-based Association for Democracy and Development has made an appeal to both the ethnic groups to resolve their contentious issues through dialogue. The Gauhati University unit of the ARSU has also demanded immediate steps to ensure safety and security to the life and property of the �Assam people.�
A group of leading citizens here have appealled to the Governors and Chief Ministers of Assam and Meghalaya to take immediate steps for the rehabilitation of the affected people.