Deport illegal Bangladeshi settlers, say Assam tribal groups

Last Updated: Tue, Nov 27, 2012 14:50 hrs

New Delhi, Nov 27 (IANS) More than 1,500 people representing 69 tribal organisations from Assam held a demonstration here Tuesday, demanding the government immediately seal the border and deport alleged illegal Bangladeshi settlers from the state.

Some 400,000 people were displaced in Assam's Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) in clashes between Bodos and alleged illegal Bangladeshi settlers during July−August.

The Coordination Committee, Indigenous Tribal National Organisations − an alliance of Bodos, Rabhas, Misings, Kacharis, and others − has demanded the government not rehabilitate those who do not possess land records.

At least 35,000 people are still lodged at the government relief camps awaiting rehabilitation.

The alliance alleged that some 7,000 Muslim families at the camps do not hold any land records and hence are not entitled for government rehabilitation.

A group of ministers (GoM) formed by the state government to look into rehabilitation had earlier identified some 13,000 families as beneficiaries.

"However, upon further probe by us (Bodo administration), it came to light that only about 5,000 families had land documents," Hemendra Nath Brahma, chairman of BTAD's coordination committee for peace and communal harmony, told IANS.

"We demand protection of all tribal belts and blocks in Assam," he said at the demonstration at Jantar Mantar on Parliament Street.

The alliance demanded that the government should deport Bangladeshi migrants on the basis of the 1985 tripartite Assam Accord, which was signed by then Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, the All Assam Students' Union and the state government following a popular movement led by AASU against illegal Bangladeshi migrants in the state.

The alliance asked for Rs.10 lakh compensation for each Indian citizen affected in the violence and demanded Sixth Schedule status for areas inhabited by Rabhas, Misings, Deuris, Tiwa and Sonowal Kacharis.

The Sixth Schedule areas are autonomous administrative divisions to which the central government has given varying degrees of autonomy within the state legislature.

The BTAD districts comprise Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksha and Udalguri.

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