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Freeing tribal land from encroachment

At a time when huge tracts of tribal land has remained under the clutches of encroachers


Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  30 Jan 2023 4:42 AM GMT

At a time when huge tracts of tribal land has remained under the clutches of encroachers, most of whom are of doubtful nationality, it is good news that Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has given an assurance to evict encroachers from Tribal Belts and Tribal Blocks of the state. While the assurance was made during a meeting with representatives of a major tribal organization on Friday, it will now be important to find out how the government fulfils this assurance. But then, the present government has already displayed its strong will by evicting a large number of encroachers from land belonging to the xatra institutions of the state in the past two-three years, which has proved that this government means business. It is pertinent to note that while the BJP-led coalition had first come to power in Assam in 2016 by promising to protect "jati-mati-bheti" (identity, land and homesteads) of the indigenous communities of the state, it won the 2021 election by taking into confidence the regional parties which stand for protection of the indigenous communities from the onslaught of massive infiltration from erstwhile East Pakistan and present-day Bangladesh. Important to recall, it were the British which had first opened the floodgates for land-hungry immigrants from then East Bengal to come in swarms to occupy the tribal lands in Assam, a policy which was also adopted by the Muslim League and then by the Congress in the post-Bordoloi era. While it is a fact that the tribal communities of Assam – including the Bodo, Rabha and Tiwa communities – have been at the receiving end of the onslaught of the land-hungry infiltrators or immigrants, a number of Assembly constituencies of the state in the non-tribal districts are also today virtually in the grip of the immigrants, the infiltrators and their progeny. This is a serious issue. At such a juncture, stringent laws are definitely required to evict the encroachers and protect the land, irrespective of whether the land belongs to tribals or non-tribals. The Brahma Committee report had very clearly depicted the alarming ground reality arising out of a systematic encroachment of land belonging to indigenous communities by the infiltrators. The Pradip Hazarika Committee of the state Assembly, on the other hand, has been mandated to investigate particularly into the encroachment of xatra land.

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