Adivasis Resent Land Grab, Demand Developmental Council

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Diphu July 10: Ongoing infringement of ancestral land of various Adivasi community of Karbi Anglong is infuriating the population which has cautioned the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council of ‘communal unrest in the near future’ if the issue continues unchecked; as the council is the ultimate authority in 6th schedule autonomous areas of Assam.

Joel Tigga, general secretary of All Adivasi students association of Assam, Karbi Anglong district committee submitted a memorandum to the Chief Executive Member of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council through Assistant Circle officer of Diphu circle today, to force action on the issue.

The students say land has been taken illegally and forcefully. The relevant authorities do not appear to be interested in these reports, even though they have been informed of the problems.

Joel Tigga says he is worried that communal unrest may result, if nothing is done soon.

“We are strongly feeling that a mischievous conspiracy is being hatched to eliminate and chase out the Adivasis from Karbi Anglong. In many places, Adavasi lands have been grabbed illegally and forcefully; Korwa Gaon under Nilip MAC constituency, Silonijan under Deopani constituency, Hotocajan and Lakhijan under Borjan constituency and from Lahorijan tea estate here, a large number of doubtful citizens have occupied Adavasi land in 14 mile and Natun Basti, the area comes under Bokajan MAC constituency.”

“More Adavasi people have been forced to abandon land in Dilaji under Dhansari MAC constituency. The issue of land grabbing has been reported to the Deputy Commissioner and concern SDO(Civil) and to the authority of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council but no one seems to be interested in answering our problem, if the matter continuous unchecked we fear there will be communal unrest in the near future”

The president of the Karbi Anglong district committee of the All Adivasi students association of Assam, wants scheduled Tribe status to be conferred on the Adivasis of Assam.

“We have demanded that without any further delay the Adivasis of Assam will have to be given scheduled Tribe status and those living in sixth scheduled areas the standing as Scheduled Tribe ( Hills)” Anil Toppo president of All Adivasi students association of Assam, Karbi Anglong district committee said.

Thrown off balance, the Adivasi body has demanded an immediate halt to the methodical grabbing of their land and retrieval of those lands within a specific time.

For the protection of their land, the AASAA has called for a law to be enacted by the government for Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council. “We demand that the buying and selling of Adivasi lands of Assam should be banned to other communities. Adavasi villages must be surveyed and permanent patta ( periodic lease) be given by chalking out a master plan. The land settlement officers should be given special instructions to make easy access for the grant of patta to the Adivasi people. We have demanded establishment of a revenue office at Bokajan as the office of the Assistant Settlement Officer, Diphu is too far away from Bokajan and is totally corrupt” Tigga said.

Other demands of the All Adivasi students association of Assam includes equal opportunity in the matter of appointment to government jobs, benefits from government schemes, facilities like health care, sanitation, drinking water, etc. The AASAA has demanded construction of hostels for Adivasi students in Diphu, Bokajan, Dokmoka and Howraghat.

The All Adivasi students association of Assam has demanded construction of a proper designated camp for the Adivasi outfit ‘All Adavasi National Liberation Army’ (AANLA) under ceasefire at Bokajan. The student body also demands immediate resumption of tripartite peace talk between the Central government, Assam government and the outfit.

Unlike the Kuki community of Karbi Anglong, the AASAA has also demanded creation of an ‘Adivasi Devlopment Council’ based on the model of Bodoland Territorial Administrative Council, to expedite the development of the Adivasi community of Karbi Anglong.

Sushanta Roy is a journalist in Assam, India, who photographs and writes about the people, animals and flora of Assam, and the things that affect them.