Assams Adivasi students not to allow politicians in tea gardens for campaigning

December 2nd, 2007 - 9:05 pm ICT by admin  

Guwahati, Dec.2 (ANI): Miffed over the ignorance of their community by politicians, the All Adivasi Students Association of Assam (AASAA) has announced that it will not allow candidates of any political party to enter tea estates to campaign for the upcoming Panchayat elections.
The Assam Panchayat elections, due to take place in the last week of December, will take place after a gap of six years.
“We will not let any political party to enter our area because our demand is to get schedule tribe status. So, we will not let anybody enter here till they fulfill our demands. We are not boycotting them. Our independent candidate will elect and we will support him or her only,” said Justin Lakra, the General Secretary of All Adivasi Students Association of Assam (AASAA).
There are 3.5 million Adivasi (tribals) in the 800 Tea gardens of Assam.
Paban Singh Ghatowar, President, Assam Chai Mazdoor Sangh and a former Congress Party MP has expressed deep concern over the call given by AASAA and termed it against the spirit of democracy.
“I believe that in the democratic process, they are definitely going to create problems for people here. I don’t think we get some benefit by interfering in democratic process or in democratic society. We will definitely think about it,” said Ghatowar.
Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Saturday said that he would give an economic package to all the six tribes, including the Adivasi who are demanding a schedule tribe status.
Besides Adivasi (or, the tea tribes), there are five other tribes in AssamMoran, Motok, Tai Ahome, Koach Rajbonshi and Tiwa.
These Adivasis, who have today become an integral part of the Assamese culture, were originally brought here by the British for tea plantation over a century ago.
These tribal communities are today the backbone of the entire tea industry, as they produce over 50 percent of the total tea production of the country.
The labourers are paid a meagre amount of only rupees 50 per day as wages. It may be recalled that over a week ago, a rally in Guwahati by tribals of Assam seeking the status of Scheduled Tribe had turned violent at Beltola with some locals ill-treating the demonstrating tribals.
The All Adivasi Students Association of Assam (AASAA) had recently called for a 36-hour Assam shutdown in protest against the attack on tribal demonstrators during a recent rally.
All-Assam Tea Tribe Students Association (AATSA) also supported the shutdown call.
Fierce violence had broken out between tribals demanding Scheduled Tribes status and local residents during a protest march by the former towards the State Assembly.
Over 100 vehicles were damaged and many shops were destroyed in the ensuing violence. (ANI)

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