JUSTIFICATION FOR CREATION OF SEPARATE KAMTAPUR-KOCH BEHAR STATE
Are we all aware of the fact that Koch empire had actually unified whole of north east with India during sixteenth century? Are we all aware of the fact that Koch Behar empire never allowed foreign powers to rule north-eastern part of India absolutely? Are we all aware of the fact that Rajbanshi communities are original Indians ? Are we all aware of the fact that Cooch Behar should have been given the status of No.1 State after independence?
Not going by the political reasons as to why it was not done so, we should look into matter in today's perspective.Six decades after independence, India has made lot of progress almost in all spheres. So, have done its neighbours Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. Mainstream people of these countries have made lot of progress including Assamese in Assam, Bengalis in West Bengal and Biharis in Bihar. But, what about Rajbanshis the ethnic people, who have been residing in these States from time immemorial and constitute majority in rural population? The answer is baffling and heart rendering.
The position of Rajbanshis looks paradoxical at times – while most of the Indian States are developing, these ethnic people are moving backwards. These people had dream of better future in democratic India. But, their hopes have been dashed and their socio-economic, cultural, linguistic and political aspirations have become distant dreams. Today, most of well-to-do or the educated Rajbanshis shy away from disclosing their Rajbanshi identity; dropouts from schools due to poverty is at the peak among rural Rajbanshis; there are hardly any business man among them and not a single industrialist yet to be identified; neither any civil servant nor a political leader in power talks about true welfare of Rajbanshi and media is shying away too, from bringing out ground realities. Most of the Rajbanshi leaders from national political parties talk on the party lines and they dare not to give political powers in the hands of Rajbanshis.
Where vast areas of erstwhile Cooch Behar state comprising of complete North Bengal, half of Assam and northern Bangladesh should have given the status of India’s number one ‘A’ category State, today, the people at the helms of State power of corridors are not fully ready to listen to the demand of separate statehood of Greater Cooch Behar or Kamtapur giving a lame excuse of no further division of Bengal or India. Today, these people are living at the mercy of mainstream people of these States.
Another lame excuse is that of development. Whose development is it anyway? While roads, airports, railway lines are spreading everywhere, Rajbanshis are selling their lands to the outsiders and moving backwards in the rural areas. Development pushes them backwards and whoever they may be, at least rural Rajbanshis are not the beneficiaries of development. Can there be development without empowering them with political power in their hands? I tried to make Rajbanshis understand the realities through my writings in the book ‘Koch Rajbanshi Kamtapuri – The Truth Unveiled’ (Guwahati, 2007)which is reproduced below:
‘...People like to be ruled by themselves’ is as true as democratic values. It has got no alternative except either to destroy them to extinction or delay to some extent. It does not exclusively mean struggle for self-determination for a separate state sort of thing. By saying so what can be inferred is that original population of the area must have their own recognition and have a say in the corridors of power and a pivotal role to play in the governance of the state. Without giving them their dues, political stability can never be obtained. South Africa is a vivid example where minority whites had to give away political powers to the majority black people to bring an end to the age-old struggle against apartheid and finally bring peace and stability in the country.
Is the demand of indigenous people of Cooch Behar or Kamtapur for a separate is genuine or a farce? To get the suitable explanation, one has to go for introspection. If the nation feels that power should not go to the sons of the soil, further state making process is no the state policy and let the indigenous people of North Bengal is not to be saved from extinction, then right policy of the government should to be snubbing the activists for separate state for Cooch Behar or Kamtapuri. If the people really will be happy to get Union Territory Status for their homeland, then it should be worth considering as it would amount to something is better than nothing.
Out of total estimated population of 71.2 million, Rajbanshi people hardly represent in the State Assembly or Parliament, which appears to be unjustifiable in terms of opportunity of equal representation in a democracy. Whatever, in meagre in numbers they represent are due to party based political affiliation of the political leaders, who even if they desire cannot raise a voice on behalf of the community as such unless directed to do so by their party high command. This aberration in the parliamentary system of representation needs to be addressed, as Rajbanshis do not have any say in the parliamentary democracy of the nation. This is one of the vital aspects of the dissension among the ranks and files of educated Rajbanshis.
However, suggested political power given to the Rajbanshis to have a say in the governance or state’s political establishment should constitute absolute power that can be used to dislodge all other communities settled in the domain. Only new settlers should be avoided and those, who have already settled permanently be treated at par with the indigenous Rajbanshis.”
Now that demand for separate Telengana State is becoming a reality, can we expect creation of separate Kamtapur-Koch Behar State? I personally think, sooner it is made better it is, not because that I belong to Rajbanshi Kshatriya community but the demand for separate Kamtapur-Koch Behar State is genuine. In fact, the demand is more genuine than others like recently created States-Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh; or, self-governing bodies of Bodos and Gorkhas and off late, just considered Telengana State. Hon'ble members of respective Legislative Assemblies of West Bengal, Assam, Bihar and the Members of Parliament in the Centre should understand the ground realities and inititiate necessary steps to grant of separate State of Kamta-Koch Behar State.