Writes Nanda Kirati Dewan
19 days long 600 kms Marathon March ends at Dispur Lastgate : More than 3000 people rallied from Sonapur to Guwahati
Tripartite talks demanded : Govt. of Assam assures of talks with Chief Minister and State Cabinet and Officials
Guwahati, 6th Aug 2016; The Marathon March against discrimination to Gorkhas of Assam in NRC upgradation process not being recognized as ‘Son of the Soil’ reached Dispur Last Gate at 10.45am in the morning on Friday along with more than three thousand Gorkhas. Harka Bahadur Chetry, popular as Gorkhafa Chairman of Gorkha Autonomous Council Demand Committee (GACDC) representing approximate 30Lakhs Gorkhas of the state had undetaken a non-violent democratic peaceful long march which is was called ‘MARATHON MARCH’ from Mukong Selek, Jonai in Dhemaji district to Dispur, Guwahati approximately 650 Kms from 19th July 2016 onwards in protest against discrimination in providing OI (Original Inhabitant ) status to the Gorkhas of Assam in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) up-gradation process. The route districts wise was Dhemaji, North Lakhimpur, Biswanath Chariali, Sonitpur, Nagoan, Morigoan, Kamrup Rural, Kamrup Metro and Guwahati
On his arrival in Guwahati on the 19th day, immediately after his inaugural speech, he addressed majority of electronic media from Dispur regarding his mission. In the mean time Chief Minister of Assam Shri. Sarbanabda Sonowal who was in New Delhi on a official visit to meet the Prime Minister advised Senior cabinet Minister, president of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) the regional political party of Assam formed immediately after Assam Accord to initiate talks with Harka Bahadur Chetry on his behalf at the Assam Secretariat. A ten member delegation was invited through Joint Commissioner of Police and Additional DCP Intelligence and Security Azagaran Basumatary to meet Atul Bora , Minister for Agriculture, Horticulture and Food Processing, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary, UDD and Town & Country Planning, Govt. of Assam from the Marathon March amalgamation point at Dispur. Dil Bahadur Limbu, Sr. Vice President, GACDC introduced the delegation to Atul Bora while the minister himself introduced his team consisting of senior officers from Home and Political Affairs lead by S S Meenakshi Sundaram IAS, Secretary to Govt. of Assam and senior NRC officials.
In the course of discussion Gorkhafa put forth only one demand that Gorkhas be recognized Indigenous community of Assam in the NRC Upgradation process like other communities of Assam without any discrimination and Assam Accord cutoff date 24th March 1971 midnight cannot be not applicable to Gorkhas because Gorkhas are ‘son of the Soil’ and indigenous of the state. Gorkhas have been part of the Assam Agitation to drive out illegal Bangladeshi and Foreigners and laid down lives as one of the agitating community. Chetry questioned,’How can a constituent community of Assam Agitation be charged with the paragraphs of the accord meant for illegal foreigners to be more specific Bangladeshis. It is hence not acceptable therefore Gorkhas should be recognized as indigenous community by Government of Assam. He made it loud and clear that his democratic, peaceful, nonviolent silent march is not more demanding OI status in NRC and he is in favour of no single illegal migrants or foreigners name should be include in NRC.
Atul Bora gave a patient hearing and spoke on behalf of the government but expressed inability of any assurances for the demand put forth but spelled the same line no genuine Indian’ names will be left out in updating the NRC and it may be from any background caste or community to which Chetry replied that he was not here to request NRC officers to include names of Gorkhas in NRC which has been left out or marked NOI after walking 600kms but to hold talks with Government of Assam on Assam Accord and Indigenous state of Gorkhas in Assam for which he requested Bora to fix a high level decision making authority meeting with Chief Minister of Assam, Assam Accord Implementation Minister, Representative of Union Home Ministry / Registrar General of India and State NRC Co-ordinator/ Nodal Officer. Bora said that it will be very difficult to arrange such a meeting immediately so he assured to fix a meeting with Chief Minister and State Government Officials as second round of talks after 15th Aug 2016, thereafter if necessary such a tripartite meeting will be arranged in due time.
On Saturday, Gorkhafa informed the developments in a press conference at Gaurisadan in Guwahati where he congratulated both print and electronic media for the support and extended gratitude to the social media which made a huge influence on the youths and impact on greater Assamese society regarding integration as Asomiya. He thanked all the people who supported him throughout the march and acknowledged the team that managed the rally.
He lastly said , ‘This is just the beginning of integrating Gorkhas into greater Assamese society administratively by peaceful, nonviolent and democratic means and it will go on till Gorkhas are recognized as indigenous in Assam and government machineries treats every indigenous equally as Assamese whether we may be a Bodo, Karbi, Rabha, Tiwa, Ahom, Gorkha, Mishing. Moran or Kalita etc.’