50 per cent tribal land occupied by illegal migrants: ABSU

R Dutta Choudhury
 GUWAHATI, Sept 23 – At least 50 per cent of the tribal belts and blocks are under occupation of illegal migrants and other unauthorized persons because of the failure of the government to protect the same, alleged the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU). The students’ body also demanded that the government should implement the recommendations of the committee for protection of land rights of indigenous people headed by former Chief Election Commissioner HS Brahma as soon as the final report is submitted.Talking to The Assam Tribune, ABSU president Pramod Boro pointed out that the interim report of the committee revealed the threat posed by illegal migration of foreigners into Assam. He said it is unfortunate that the Central and State governments failed to check the infiltration.

The student leader said all sections of indigenous people of Assam must set aside their political and other differences to launch a joint movement against illegal migration. “It is a fact that the organizations representing ethnic groups have differences on political and other issues. But there is no reason why we cannot fight together on common issues like illegal migration to protect the interests of the indigenous people,” he added.

Boro admitted that illegal migration is posing a threat to the identity of the indigenous people, creating social tension in the State. He expressed the view that over the years, the government machinery failed to deal with the problem. It is the responsibility of the government to use its own machinery to check illegal migration and to protect the lands of the indigenous people, but it failed miserably to discharge its duty, he alleged.

On tribal belts and blocks, Boro said there are specific laws on protection of such land and the officials responsible for this failed to discharge their assigned duties and the government also failed to strictly implement the laws. He said there are 47 tribal belts and blocks in Assam covering an area of 1.28 crore bighas. “But at least 50 per cent of these land is occupied by illegal migrants and other unauthorized persons, forcing the tribal people to shift to forest areas,” he said.

Stating that at least 70 per cent of the tribal people of Assam do not have land patta, he demanded that the government should immediately evict the unauthorized people from the tribal belts and blocks, and settle only the authorized people in such places. He also said that the Forest Dwellers’ Act was also not implemented properly in Assam, forcing the tribal people to shift from one place to another.

The HS Brahma committee had expressed concern over large scale transfer of land of indigenous people to outsiders and the ABSU president said this happened because the local people are not conscious, while the government officials totally failed to carry out their responsibilities.

Source : http://assamtribune.com