By Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Three Guwahati colleges are in the eye of a storm for seeking information from students about their caste in the online admission form for a three-year degree course.

Usually, students are asked to write if they belong to Scheduled Tribe, Scheduled Caste, Other Backward Class, or General. This is done for the purpose of reservation of seats as well as scholarship.

However, the three well-known institutes such as Handique Girls’ College, Karmashree Hiteswar Saikia College, and Arya Vidyapeeth College asked the students to specify if they are Brahman, Ganak, Kalita, Kayastha, Muslim, Sudra, Vaishya, or Other.

The newly-floated political party Asom Jatiya Parishad (AJP) criticised the state government for the regressive step.

“When human beings are scaling the peak of civilisation following the advancement of science and technology, the Assam government is taking a backward step,” the AJP said in a statement.

Accusing the government of encouraging casteism, the party said the decision would divide people and vitiate peace and harmony in society.

The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and the Chhatra Mukti Sangram Samiti also slammed the government on the issue. “This is nothing but casteism and this is unheard of in Assam’s history,” SFI’s Kamrup (Metro) district committee president Himangshu Bora said.

Both the student organisations as well as the AJP demanded the immediate removal of the category from the admission form.

The authorities of Karmashree Hiteswar Saikia College blamed the vendor tasked to create the web page for admission. They said the college did not issue any instruction on caste specification.

Special secretary of education department Preetom Saikia said caste specification is not a policy of the state government. “We are collecting information from the colleges and looking into it. We have to take some action. The colleges perhaps decided independently. This is not a government policy,” he said.