Koch and Rajbongsi are two separate communities: Koch organisations

From Preetam Brahma Choudhury

KOKRAJHAR: Various Koch organisations including the All Assam Koch Students Union (AAKSU), All Assam Koch Association have demanded separate entities to the Koch community, not as Koch-Rajbongshi saying that the Koch possess a distinct language, attire and culture.

Addressing Reporters in a pressmeet at Kokrajhar Press Club today, president of the AAKSU Manaranjan Koch said Koch and Rajbongsi are two separate communities. “There is no such tribe as Koch-Rajbongshis, the Koch being original inhabitants of Assam with own distinct culture, attire, customs, tradition and language which are completely different from the Rajbongshis, he said and alleged that the Rajbongshis were imposing theirs on them and posing an impediment to the community’s development.

Echoing him, president of All Assam Koch Association Prabash Banai said the Rajbongshis had no history, identity, language and distinct culture and their characteristics are totally different from Koches. The Rajbongshis claim themselves as Kshatriya Brahmin but now they are misusing ‘Koch’ name for their selfish interest to get scheduled tribe status in Assam. The Rajbongshis enjoy Scheduled Caste status in Bengal but they want Scheduled Tribe status in Assam by identifying themselves as Koch-Rajbongshis,” he further said.

Stating that creation of Kamatapur Autonomous Council (KAC) in the name of Koch Rajbongshis was an insult to Koch people and a move to destroy the community, the AAKSU president said they will move the Gauhati High Court to oppose the KAC bill as the Rajbongshis misinterpreted the real Koch history to derive benefits and autonomous council.

The AAKSU president also demanded the formation of Koch Development Council and engagement of 1000 educated youths in primary school by introducing “Kochokoro” (Koch language) as medium of instruction in primary level for the growth and development of Koch people. He also warned that they will be compelled to give a fitting reply in the next election if the government fails to fulfil their legitimate demands.

Advisor of Koch Development Council, writer and social worker Indra Mohan Koch said the government of Meghalaya accorded ST status to Koch people while the Assam government has not recognized them as Koch but ST is given in the name of Rabha. He demanded that the government of Assam should not accord ST status to “Rajbongshi” in the name “Koch Rajbongshi” but it should be in the name of “Koch”.

We have nothing to say if the Rajbongshi are given the ST status but not in the name “Koch Rajbongshi”. Rajbongshis are not entitled for ST status by using Koch ahead of them but Koches are the ethnic indigenous people to get ST status by that name, he said.

He also said it was unfortunate that the government of Assam failed to accord ST status by name of Koch while Meghalaya did it.

The press meet was also attended by president of Koch Deheng Rumchung Daychand Rongag Koch from West Bengal, president of Koch Women Council Sinmoyee Koch and general secretary of AAKSU Parimal Koch.

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