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Rajbangshi demands status as ethnic group

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Staff Reporter
Representatives of the Rajbangshi community at a program here on Wednesday demanded that the community be re-enlisted officially as an ethnic minority people.
At the program organized by Bangladesh Rajbangshi Welfare Association at the National Press Club, the speakers said the community, who had been included as an ethnic group in all censuses from 1991 to 2011, was excluded from the list of ethnic minority people for unknown reasons.
Speaking as the Chief Guest, RAM Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee at the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs in Bangladesh, said the community has a separate identity and cultural entity.
"As they are minority people, they shouldn't be left behind and it's the duty of the country to ensure this," he said adding that the Rajbangshi community should be identified as an ethnic group while their name somehow was excluded from the list.
Ashok Kumar Biswas, President of the welfare association said, almost 80 percent of the Rajbangshi people are poor among whom 30 percent are living below the poverty line.
In many documents, including primary school textbooks and Banglapedia provided by Asiatic Society, Rajbangshi people have been identified as an ethnic group while in 1950, Tenancy Act directly recognised this community as ethnic group, he said.
Among others, Manmathnath Chowdhury Rajbangshi, adviser of the Welfare Association, Dr Shubashchandra Rajbangshi, General Secretary of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Jashore, Prof Dr Mesbah Kamal, Chairperson of Research and Development Collective, Advocate Saifuzzaman Shikhar, Assistant Pri-vate Secretary to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also spoke on the occasion.