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Protect tribal belts & blocks: LDP

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  25 Nov 2015 12:00 AM GMT

By our Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Nov 24: The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has launched a blistering attack on the State Government for having ignored a festering wound of the people of Assam: the problem of ‘tribal land alietion’.

Speaking to the press today, LDP president Prodyut Bora said that it does not need one more round of violence for the government to realize that this is a problem that cannot be wished away by putting one’s head in the sand, like the proverbial ostrich.

Bora said: “There has been a huge loss of life and property due to violence between various communities in the past decades. In October 1993, an estimated 50 people were killed in clashes between Bodos and immigrant Muslims in Bongaigaon district. Nearly, 5,000 Muslims are still in relief camps in Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon districts. Violence between Bodos and Muslims in Barpeta district in July 1994 led to an estimated 100 deaths, many of the victims were displaced people taking shelter in a relief camp at Bansbari. In May 1996, over 200 people were killed and over two lakh people were displaced in widespread clashes between Bodos and Santhals in Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon districts. Over 50 people were estimated to be killed in a series of clashes between Bodos and Santhals between May and September 1998. Between August and October 2008, an estimated 70 people were killed in clashes between Muslims and Bodos in Udalguri and Darrang. Over 100,000 people were rendered homeless from the two communities. In July 2012, in riots between Bodos and immigrant Muslims, 77 people had died and over 400,000 people took shelter in 270 relief camps after being displaced from almost 400 villages.”

According to Bora, while many organizations try to give a commul colour to these clashes, the main reason remains land. “This is because land is the only asset a poor tribal person has. Therefore, whenever he is deprived of his land, whether willingly or unwillingly, his entire life is destabilized,” he said, and added citing a report published by the Government of Assam’s Institute of Research for Tribal and Scheduled Castes (AIRTSC): “Alietion of tribal land, like in the other states of India where tribal population constitutes a significant percentage, is one of the major problems being faced by the tribal communities of Assam. And it has been continuing from pre-independence days till today.”

“Altogether 11 tribal belts and 24 blocks were created in Assam till 1964, comprising 3,112 villages, covering an area of 1,18,25,842 bighas. In 1969, the Government deconstituted an area of 1,29,202 bighas under the South Kamrup (Guwahati) tribal belt to build the capital city of Dispur. In 1977, additiolly 3 belts and 7 blocks comprising 7,20,715 bighas were notified,” Bora said, and added: “Currently there are 14 belts and 31 blocks, comprising an area of 1,24,47,355 bighas or 16,59,647 hectares.”

Bora said that the State Government has not been able to protect these tribal belts and blocks from encroachments. He announced that the LDP would take up the issues of tribals with utmost seriousness, and said that it would create 32 community development cells on the pattern of the government’s autonomous and development councils. The role of the cells, according to him, would be to mainstream the problems of indigenous people, and also monitor the working of the autonomous and development councils of the state.

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