29 September, 2020

Tea On The Boil

Protesting adivasis open up another battlefront in Assam

Tea On The Boil
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Eighteen-year-old Bhadra Munda had heard about Guwahati, its tall buildings, crowded roads and traffic snarls. When some elders from his village Khoirabari, in the northern Udalguri district of Assam, asked him if he'd like to join them for a 'mahasabha' in the state capital on Saturday, November 24, the young adivasi agreed readily. It would be his first visit to the city, whatever else the rally, organised by the All Assam Adivasi Students Association (AAASA), might be about.

When the chartered bus carrying his group snaked into Guwahati shortly before noon, Bhadra found thousands of his kinfolk, all adivasis, comprising the bulk of Assam's tea garden worker community (bracketed as the tea tribes), already there. He learnt they had gathered to press the adivasi demand for Scheduled Tribe status that would bring the estimated 30 lakh or more people like him in Assam the benefits of reservations in jobs and educational institutions, besides other sops, like their brethren in states like Jharkhand.

There were 6,000...

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