All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) chief adviser Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharjya on Friday said Adivasi (tea tribe) people are the integral part of Assamese society
Addressing a mass convention organised by the Chah Jangosthi Adivasi Joutha Mancha at the Chowkidingee playground here in protest against the recent statement by a pro-talks ULFA leader that tea garden workers were not indigenous people of Assam, Bhattacharya said the problems of the tea tribes in the State is the problem of Assam.
“They are the integral part of Assam without and them the Assamese society is incomplete. Many tea tribe peoples have sacrificed their life during the Assam agitation. They have worked immense for the development of Assam. They have a great history of 200 years in Assam. They contribute immensely in developing the economy of Assam,” he added.
Bhattacharjya in his speech mentioned the contribution and sacrifice of the tea community students during the Assam movement of the 1980s against illegal immigrants in the state.
He said that the tea tribes are indigenous people of the state and no one has the right to classify them as non-indigenous people.
Pro-talks ULFA leader Anup Chetia who heads the Khilonjiya Mancha Asom, an umbrella organisation of the state’s indigenous communities had claimed that those who resided in Assam before the Treaty of Yandaboo on February 24, 1826 (when Assam was ceded to the British) were the only rightful indigenous people of the state.
According to Chetia the tea workers were brought to Assam by the British to work in the tea industry after 1826 and hence cannot claim to be indigenous people though they were integral part of the Assamese society having adopted the Assamese language and culture.
His statement was met with strong protests from the tea community across the state.
Ex-Asom Sahitya Sabha president Nagen Saikia said that there was no need to separately classify the tea tribes as they are ‘Assamese people’.
He said Assam is famous for tea industry and the people of the community have worked tirelessly for the development of the Assamese society.
“One-fourth of Assam’s population consist of our tea community. Our forefathers lived here even before the Yandaboo treaty was signed. Even tea was discovered in Assam many years before the treaty was signed. The contribution of the tea tribes to the state’s economy is unparalleled. Therefore it is indeed unfortunate to term the tea community as non-indigenous,” ACMS president Paban Singh Ghatowar said.