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BJSM opposes indigenous status to immigrant communities in BTC

The BJSM (Bodoland Janajati Suraksha Mancha ) has strongly opposed the move of the State government to give indigenous status to some communities in BTR

BJSM

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  15 July 2021 4:15 AM GMT

OUR CORRESPONDENT

KOKRAJHAR: The BJSM (Bodoland Janajati Suraksha Mancha ) has strongly opposed the move of the State government to give indigenous status to some communities in BTR (Bodoland Territorial Region) and other tribal belts and blocks of the State. The BJSM, on Wednesday, said that the move to grant indigenous status to some migrant communities will pose threat to the indigenous tribal people in Assam. BJSM working president D.D. Narzary said in a statement that there is apprehension among the indigenous tribal people of the region due to the unabated influx from the neighboring country and in many cases these people have even grabbed land of the indigenous people. He further said that several hundreds of indigenous Boro people have left their villages in Kokrajhar, Dhubri and Bongaigaon districts of lower Assam after the 2012 riot with immigrant the Muslims.

He added that these indigenous tribal people of the region are still not in a position to go back to their respective villages due to the security reason. He further said that by giving the 'indigenous status' to the migrant and advanced communities, the real sons of the soil will not get safety and security in their own land; and there is also the likelihood of these indigenous sons of the soil losing their protected lands. Narzary further said that "the Nepalese-turned Gorkhas were neither tribals nor scheduled castes (SC), nor Other Backward Class (OBC). And, they should not be given the 'indigenous status' because the tribal belts and blocks are meant for the tribals and OBCs. The general people should not be allowed to share the benefits enjoyed by the tribal people within the tribal-administration area that is safeguarded under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India. In their memorandum to Assam Legislative Assembly Speaker Biswajit Daimary submitted through the Kokrajhar DC, BJSM working president Narzary further said that the Cabinet's decision and approbation to include the Gorkhas living in the tribal belts and blocks in the BTC (Bodoland Territorial Council) district area in the list of protected class under the provisions of Chapter- X of the ALRA (Assam Land & Revenue Regulation Act-1886 amended from time to time will have an adverse impact on the process meant to protect land of the tribal people.

He also said that the Gorkhas originated from the hill-town of Gorkha, one of the 75 districts of modern Nepal but their name comes not from the place but is said to have been derived from an Eighth century Hindu warrior-saint Guru Gorakhnath. Legend has it that it was Guru Gorakhnath who gave the Gorkhas the famous curved bladed knife, the Kukri, he said, adding that the so-called Gorkhas of the BTC area in particular and of Assam in general are none but those Nepalese.

"They are much more advanced in all spheres of their lives compared to the plains tribes, particularly the Bodos. Inclusion of them in the list of the protected class in the BTC area will, among other benefits, allow them to buy, sell and transfer land in the BTC area", he said, adding that during the British rule in Assam, massive immigration from the then East Bengal to the Brahmaputra Valley culminated into settling huge lands with the immigrants. He further said that they were involved in many conflicts and struggle in the sphere of economy with the tribals and other indigenous people of Assam; and to contain the situation, the British administration introduced the 'Line System' in 1920 for restraining the Bengal immigrants from their indiscriminate occupation of land.

The memorandum further said that conflicts continued between the tribals and other communities and Muslim immigrants over land, cattle, grazing rights and practices. In order to contain the growing tension, the Assam government adopted Resolution No. RD.68/44, dated 13th July 1945 for the protection of the tribal classes of people in the areas predominantly inhabited by them against aggression from outside elements. It was resolved that keeping in line with the Census Instructions- 1940, information was collected of all villages in which the percentage of persons of the tribal classes exceeded 50 per cent and of the areas in those villages occupied by tribals and others. It was also resolved that as and when enquiries would be completed, a Tribal Belt or Belts would be notified.

It was further resolved that provision would be made for creation of tribal blocks side by side with the blocks of other communities in the 'Planned Settlement Areas' where the tribal people had their villages and homes, he added and said that in pursuance of the 1945 resolution, amendment to the 'Assam Land & Revenue (Amendment) Act-1947' (Assam Act XV of 1947) was made and a new chapter called Chapter- X was added to it under the headline 'Protection of Backward Classes'.

In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 160 Sub-section 2 of the 'Assam Land & Revenue Regulation (Amendment) Act-1947' (Assam Act XV of 1947), the Government of Assam by a Notification No. RD.69/46/19, dated 5th December 1947, specified cultivators pertaining to Plains Tribals, Hill Tribals, Tea garden Tribals, Santhals, Nepali cultivator-graziers and Scheduled Castes as classes of people entitled to protection, he said, adding that in 1969, the Nepalis were excluded from the list of the notified protected classes of people, vide notification No.RSD26/64/PT/15, dated 27th June 1969 read with a corrigendum No. RSD.26/64/101, dated 16th December 1971.

Narzary also said that the BTC had been constitutionally conferred upon the power to make laws in respect of land and revenue (Vide, SL. No. XV of paragraph 3B of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India). In other words, approbation of the Nepalese under the nomenclature "Gorkha' as a protected class of people within the BTC area tantamount to debasing the authority of BTC, he said.

He urged the Speaker to see that any Bill to be introduced to that effect in the Cabinet be set aside for the good of his own people.

Also Read: BJSM expresses resentment over government's decision on Gorkhas

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