Protect Tribal Lands from Immigrants

Monjib Mochahari |The Password| July 10, 2015

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Influential literary organisation Bodo Sahitya Sabha (BSS) has sought protection of tribal belts and blocks in Assam. In a memorandum submitted recently to the Governor of Assam, the BSS said that the Sabha wanted full protection of all tribal belts and blocks in the state. Seriously, it’s an old demand but given a deaf ear. They said the Sabha wants immediate steps to protect the tribal belts and blocks by implementing the provisions of the aforesaid regulation and as per clause No.10 of Assam Accord, 1985.

As many as 47 Tribal Belts and Blocks, across Assam were constituted under the Chapter-X of Assam Land and Revenue Regulation Act (ALRRA), 1886 to protect the lands of the Tribal from other Non-Tribal people. Strictly, it doesn’t have any constitutional validity which itself becomes the basis for not implementing the Act. Consequently, the 22 major backward tribal groups, of which Bodos are the largest ethnic group in Assam, are facing the brunt of illegal immigrants who continue to occupy tribal territories. Influx from poor neighbouring like Bangladesh is becoming a major threat these already exploited indigenous groups. It is terrible. I am one of the witnesses to this situation since my early childhood.

The plains tribal people of Assam are basically cultivators and so land is of supreme importance to them. But the successive state government did not take any appropriate measure to protect these tribal belts and blocks as per the provision laid down in the Chapter-X of the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation, 1886. This indifferent attitude of the state Government in the matter of protecting tribal lands has been decried time and again but to no effect. It is simply getting multiplied beyond one’s imagination. A loud cry has only become inaudible in Dispur, the epicentre of Assam politics.

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“It’s a matter of facts how foreign nationals have infiltrated into Assam and the entire North-East threatening the very existence of the indigenous people of the region and as such, infiltration of foreign nationals is believed to be continuing unabated into the region”, said the memorandum, adding that the issue of the foreign nationals is not only the issue of Assam and North-East but it is soon going to be a national issue which may change the demographic pattern of North East India. It is a fact overlooked in the corridors of power.

Illegal infiltration into Assam is a major national security threat, but thanks to the political patronage they all have become vote banks. The question of checking or deportation of immigrants is yet to receive any political discussion.

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