The Gauhati High Court order for eviction of non-tribals and other persons ‘not eligible to hold possession of land’ in the tribal belts and blocks protected under Chapter X of Assam Land and Revenue Regulation Act, 1886 has been seen as significant by the political and social circles of the Bodoland Territorial Council(BTC) administred four districts of Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) viz Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri ahead of the Bodoland Territorial Council polls scheduled in first quarter of 2020.

Sailen Kumar Sarmah a member of Gana Suraksha Party (GSP) and resident of Udalguri echoing the concerns of the indigenous non-tribals living in the BTAD for time immemorial said our party’s main agenda is protection of the non-tribals who have been pushed to the edge in the autonomous council where the political aspirations and equal rights of the non-tribals shattered by those in powers.

Sarma further added, “The woes of indigenous non-tribals living for decades in these protected areas also have to be taken into consideration as where will they head to if eviction is carried.”

“Its high time the government replace the colonial laws with  more contemporary,progressive and comprehensive laws, just carrying the provision of Chapter X of the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation Act 1886 in the new land policy of Assam will not serve the purpose as laws need to be amended keeping pace with the changing needs of the society,” Sarma rued.

BTC executive member Doneswar Goyary said, “The BPF party are yet to held party level meet in regard of the court verdict whatever the party decides will be a binding and then we will look for execution of the court  order.”

Social activist, Pratibha Brahma of Kokrajhar also welcomed the court verdict and said that the successive government has not been able to protect the influx of outsiders in the protected areas but the court’s verdict on the onset of new year has relieved the long pending demand of the indigenous tribals.

Working president of Bodoland Janajati Suraksha Mancha (BJSM) Daorai Dekhab Narzary also welcomed the court verdict and said that the tribal people who are indigenous sons of the soil have lost their lands in non-protected areas of Assam and due to which such safeguards is necessary to the tribals living in BTC.

A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from upper Assam on condition of anonymity said, “The tribal belts and blocks in Assam is a product of the colonial policies which had created special provisions for various protected groups including tribes with the ostensible objective of ‘protecting’ land from occupation by other ‘advanced’ groups other than the ‘protected class of people’ – plains tribals, hills tribals, tea garden tribals, Santhals, scheduled castes and Nepali cultivator graziers.”

“Later indigenous Koch-Rajbongshis of Goalpara, Dhubri, Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon districts were added under this category. It is a misnomer, to use the phrase ‘tribal belts’ because others groups including non-tribals are also included,” the legislator added.

The saffron party legislator further added, “The court order to evict the illegal settlers encroaching over the land of the belt and block is a normal course of action as tribals are entitled for it.”

Shajid Khan

Shajid Khan is Northeast Now Correspondent in Udalguri. He can be reached at: itsshajidkhan@gmail.com