Following the passage of the Kamatapur Autonomous Council Act, 2020 in the Assam Assembly last year, a Guwahati based think-tank, Centre for Koch-Rajbanshi Studies and Development (CKRSD) conducted a preliminary study to understand what percentage of the Koch-Rajbongshi community would reap benefits from the formation of the council.
Accordingly, as per the preliminary study it was estimated that more than 85% of Koch-Rajbongshi population of Assam will remain outside the ambit of the Kamatapur Autonomous Council (in short KAC) and will not gain any benefit from its formation.
On the basis of the study the CKRSD further stressed that for the inclusive development of all the Koch Rajbongshi people of Assam, either the Autonomous Council area has to be extended across Assam or the Koch Rajbongshi people of BTAD and Rest of Assam has to explore at an alternative development model or roadmap.
The said KAC Act, which was passed in September 2020 includes the whole of the Undivided Goalpara district, excluding Bodoland Territorial Council and Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council areas. It was formed for the development and protection of the ethnic Koch-Rajbongshi people
The findings of the preliminary study are as follows:
Kamatapur Autonomous Council
The Kamatapur Autonomous Council Act, 2020, was notified on 19th October, 2020, and the Preamble of the act states that it will be comprising of Koch-Rajbongshi dominated villages of Dhubri, South Salmara, Goalpara and Bongaigaon district, excluding the Bodoland Territorial Council and Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council areas, for the social, economic, educational, ethnic and cultural advancement of the Koch-Rajbongshi community. The villages to be included in the KAC, consisting of more than 50% Koch-Rajbongshi people are yet to be notified.
According to a preliminary study conducted by CKRSD, based on Census 2011 figures, the approximate Koch-Rajbongshi population for the above districts, which are Muslim majority districts are as follows:
|Particulars||1 Dhubri (South Salmara)||2 Goalpara||3 Bongaigaon|
|Hindu Population (%)||19.92%||34.51%||48.61%|
|Total Hindu Population||3,88,292||3,47,924||3,59,133|
|Less (-) S.C Population||70,395||45,094||82,784|
|Less (-) S.T Population (excluding S.T Christian Population)||6,319||2,13,693||18,684|
|Hindu Others Population||3,11,578||89,137||2,57,665|
|Assumption: 70% of Hindu Others are Koch-Rajbonsghis**||2,18,105||62,396||1,80,365|
|TOTAL KOCH RAJBONGSHI POPULATION (1+2+3) in Dhubri (South Salmara), Goalpara and Bongaigaon||4,60,866|
* At the time of Census 2011 South Salmara Mancachar district was part of Dhubri district, which was bifurcated only in the year 2016 and a new district was created.
** The Census 2011 has separate SC/ST population census, but no OBC census has been conducted since 1931. As such OBC population is arrived at from the Hindu Other category by an estimate of the %. Thereafter Koch Rajbongshi population has been taken as 70% of Hindu Others, therefore it may vary +/- 5%.
Koch Rajbongshi population in KAC vis-à-vis Assam
The Koch-Rajbongshis of Assam are notified as Other Backward Class (OBC) in Assam, but neither the Central nor the State Government has conducted any census of the OBC population either in Assam or across the country since 1931. Furthermore, the State Government has also not conducted any census to ascertain the exact district wise Koch-Rajbongshi population of Assam.
According to the Handbook on Social Welfare Statistics, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India, published in September 2018, the total percentage (%) of OBCs in Assam (2011-12) is 25.3% of the 3.12 crore total population of Assam, which pegs the OBC population of Assam at around 78.95 lakhs (rounded to 79 lakhs). But without any proper census of the OBC population in Assam, the said 25.3% OBC population seem rather on the lower side.
Assuming but not admitting that the OBC population in Assam is 25.3% or around 79 lakhs as stated in the above report of the Central Government, then as per CKRSD’s own estimate the Koch Rajbongshi population vis-à-vis total OBC population of Assam is around 35%, which is around 28.00 lakhs or roughly around 9% of the total population of Assam.
The total Koch-Rajbongshi population in Dhubri (South Salmara), Goalpara and Bongaigaon district is around 4.60 lakhs, which is around 16.41% of total Koch Rajbongshi population of Assam. But the actual Koch-Rajbongshi population inside the KAC is likely to further come down as the areas under the Bodoland Territorial Council and the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council will be excluded from the ambit of KAC. Furthermore, the villages with less than 50% Koch-Rajbongshi population, in the said districts will also remain excluded. Therefore, a sizeable population of Koch Rajbongshis residing in the above districts will remain outside the periphery of the KAC. Hence, it can be safely said that more than 85% of Koch or Koch-Rajbongshi people of Assam will not gain any benefit from the formation of KAC.
In view of the above, it becomes imperative that for the inclusive development of all the Koch Rajbongshi people of Assam, either the Autonomous Council area is extended across Assam or the Koch Rajbongshi people of BTAD and the Rest of Assam, will need to contemplate on an alternative development model and a separate roadmap.