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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Adibashi forum wants talks on recognition

Adibashi forum wants talks on recognition


Ofiul Hasnat Ruhin

Despite a formal demand from the ethnic minority communities, the special parliamentary committee on constitution amendment is yet to decide whether to invite their leaders to discuss the issue of constitutional recognition of the communities.

In a letter to the committee chairman and deputy leader of the house, Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, on Monday, Bangladesh Adibashi Forum formally requested the committee to exchange opinions with a 7-member delegation of the ethnic minority communities on their demand for constitutional recognition.

According to the letter, Chakma Circle Chief Raja Devashish Roy is expected to lead the delegation. BAF general secretary Sanjeeb Drong, Rabindranath Soren, Shaktipada Tripura, Albert Mankin, U Sit Mong and Nirola Tongsong are members of the delegation.

‘We demand that the committee should hear our views before making recommendations to parliament,’ Sanjeeb Drong told New Age Monday.

Rashed Khan Menon MP, a member of the special committee, said the ethnic minority leaders had expressed interest in holding a meeting with the committee and the committee should respond positively.

When asked about the demand of the ethnic minority leaders for consultation, Suranjit Sengupta, co-chair of the committee, told New Age on Monday evening, ‘We have taken views of the leaders of these communities in a way or other. We have received their written proposals. We have already talked to the elected representatives of these communities. We are sympathetic to their demands.’ 

Suranjit told New Age on Saturday, ‘We talked to the lawmakers of the ethnic minority communities. I think it is alright. We do not think it is necessary to hold further consultations with them.’

The lawmakers elected from the ethnic minority areas are members of the ruling Awami League.
The ethnic minority communities were demanding recognition of the nationalities, languages and culture of at least 46 communities of the hills and plains.

The committee at a meeting on March 15 agreed to recognise the ethnic minority groups as ‘Khudra Janagosthi’ in the constitution, saying no minority communities would be recognised as indigenous (adibashi).

Ethnic minority communities from across the country took to the streets in the capital on Friday demanding that they should be recognised in the constitution as ‘indigenous peoples’, not as ‘small ethnic groups’ as proposed by the parliamentary special committee on constitution amendment.
Identifying the indigenous people as ‘small ethnic groups’ is derogatory for them, said the BAF leaders.

The BAF president Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, better known as Santu Larma, said the incumbent government’s reluctance to recognise ethnic minority communities as ‘indigenous or adibashi people’ in the constitution was a part of a ‘conspiracy’ against the marginal communities. 

The committee already took views of the former chief justices, legal experts and political parties having representation in parliament. It has decided to talk to the editors of the national dailies and intellectuals as a part of its move to get more suggestions regarding the amendment.

The prime minister on July 21, 2010 formed the 15-member special parliamentary committee to recommend amendment proposals for the constitution following a High Court verdict that declared illegal the Fifth Amendment to the constitution.


courtesy: New Age

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