Rajiv Gandhi’s name to be removed from Orang National Park in Assam to “respect” the feelings of the Adivasi

The first job that officials at Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park in Assam have to do on the morning of September 2 is to change the sign at the entrance gate as the state government has decided to remove Rajiv Gandhi’s name and of the park. will now be officially recognized as an Orang National Park, taking into account the demands of the Adivasi communities and the tea tribes.

Speaking exclusively to News18, Congressman Gaurav Gogoi from Assam called the move “disrespectful”. “This is not just about Assam, but what we have witnessed across the country. It is a total disrespect for the prime ministers of the country who have come from the Congress party, from Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi; we have seen how Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his supporters have consistently undermined the contribution of these leaders… Prime Minister Modi must not forget that all these former Prime Ministers sacrificed their lives for the country.

Located on the north bank of the Brahmaputra River in the Darrang and Sonitpur districts of Assam, Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park covers an area of ​​78.80 km². It was declared a national park on April 13, 1999. Orang is also known as mini Kaziranga because of its similar landscape of marshes, streams and meadows. Like Kaziranga, it is also inhabited by the one-horned rhino. According to the latest census, the park is home to around 24 Royal Bengal tigers and over 100 rhinos.

“It’s good that we have similar names for the tiger reserve and the national park. The tiger reserve has always been Orang. We must now change the sign, the letterheads and other badges bearing the name of Rajiv Gandhi. However, in addition to the name change, the park deserves better infrastructure and exposure, ”says Pradipt Baruah, Divisional Forestry Officer, Mangaldoi.

Orang National Park is the oldest forest reserve in the state. It was named a wildlife reserve in 1985 and declared a national park in 1999. In August 2005, the Congressional government headed by Tarun Gogoi decided to rename Orang National Park in honor of the former Prime Minister to the occasion of the 61st anniversary of the birth of Rajiv Gandhi.

In 1992, people around Orang National Park fiercely resisted the attempt by the Hiteswar Saikia government to rename the game reserve. The names of various national parks and forest reserves in Assam are inextricably linked to local cultures and attaching names of political figures only takes away local identity were the arguments. The only rhino sanctuary on the north bank of the Brahmaputra was, until 1900, a large village inhabited by a tribe called Orang. Residents abandoned the area when water-borne diseases, mainly black fever, began to take their toll on the population.

The national park is named after the Oraon people, who inhabit Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh. Most of the population have been tea garden workers for centuries. According to the 2011 census, there are 73,437 Oraon people in Assam.

“We only respected the sentiments of the adivasis and the tea tribe who asked the Honorable Chief Minister of Assam to change this nomenclature 48 hours ago … Minister Pawan Singh Gotowar, were present and they appreciated the decision, ”said Ashok Singhal, Minister of Urban Development, Assam.

“They can do all of the name change, the history change, but they cannot erase Rajiv Gandhi’s contributions as the architect of future India. The computer and cellphones the BJP uses today to continue his program of rewriting history were made available to them through the computer revolution brought about by Rajiv Gandhi. No one can erase Rajjv Gandhi’s contribution to grassroots women empowerment by a 33% reservation in the panchayats, his encouragement of young people to engage in political decision-making by reducing the voting age from 21 to 18.

“Can we erase Rajiv Gandhi’s contributions to peace in Assam through the Assam Accord?” Can we deny that he resigned an elected government from the Congress of the late Hiteswar Saikia to make way for the AGP to contest the elections and form the government? It was Rajiv Gandhi who believed in listening to the regional aspirations of the Assamese people. But today’s BJP wouldn’t understand that kind of politics, ”said Bobeeta Sharma, APPC’s media manager.

In a major boost to tiger conservation in northeast India, and in Assam in particular, Orang National Park has been declared a Tiger Reserve, making it the fourth of its kind in the State and the 49th in the country.

However, surrounded by villages on three sides, the park’s borders have hardened, says Mubina Akhtar, an activist wildlife advertising columnist.

“I’m happy with the decision. The national park must be the identity of the place and its inhabitants. Kaziranga, Manas, Dibru Saikhowa are all names of places or rivers and this should be the practice. However, more than the name, I think because the park is crowded with human dwellings on three sides, the natural animal corridors are blocked off and the government should take immediate action to add buffer zones to the sides. It is the only connection to Kaziranga via the Burasapori chain. This allows crossbreeding, which is essential for the tiger population, ”Akhtar added.

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