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DoNER Minister’s intervention sought to protect Assam’s ethnic tribals

A deputation of Indigenous Tribal Sahitya Sabhas, a conglomerate of eight indigenous tribal groups of Assam, called on the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr. Jitendra Singh here today and sought his intervention for protection of Assams ethnic tribals.

The deputation led by the Chief Convenor of the conglomerate, Shri Kamala Kanta Mushahary said that the term Assamese as appears in Clause-6 of the Assam Accord, 1985 be specified by the term Indigenous Tribal People of Assam and Indigenous Assamese People of Assam. This will, according to him, help in retaining the rich cultural heritage and language of this section of population.

A memorandum submitted to the DoNER Minister, complained of large scale influx of immigrants from outside Assam, which was allegedly endangering the ethnic identity of the indigenous people of Assam in general and indigenous tribal people of Assam in particular. Therefore, the deputation demanded proper steps for sealing the Indo-Bangladesh border permanently and effectively.

While welcoming the governments decision to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the memorandum sought to draw attention to the possibility of many of the tribal people having been left out of the NRC, 1951 or Electoral Rolls. They also complained that the Government of Assam had taken a decision to take the Electoral Rolls of 2014 as the base year for updating the NRC but alleged that this decision was anti-State and also against the indigenous people of Assam. They suggested that in respect of tribals recognised by the Constitution of India, there should be no base year as cut off for the purpose of updating the NRC.

According to the memorandum, large areas of belts and blocks created as per provisions of Chapter-X of Assam Land and Revenue Regulation, 1886 have got occupied by encroachers and non-protected sections of people. As a result of this, the very existence of indigenous tribal people of Assam is threatened, they alleged.

The memorandum also alleged that the present government in the State had, the in last nearly two decades, not appointed a single teacher of tribal languages, which deprived the tribal children from receiving education in their respective mother tongue at elementary level. This, they said, was endangering the survival of tribal languages of Assam. Implementation of Forest Dwellers Act, 2006 in letter-and-spirit and judicious allocation of funds were the other demands made in the memorandum.

Dr Jitendra Singh gave a patient hearing to the deputation and said, the various points stated by them will be put up at appropriate level for consideration.

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