21 October, 2020

This Planter Doesn’t Stop The Elephants

As a child, Tenzing survived a militant attack on his family. He went on to pioneer elephant-friendly tree plantations.

Tea Corridor
A herd passing through an unfenced plantation
Photograph by Anuwar Hazarika
This Planter Doesn’t Stop The Elephants

On a cool October evening in 1996, staccato bursts from aut­omatic rifles rang through a small village in Assam’s Udalguri district, along the foothills of the Himalayas. Seven people lay dead, including a seven-day-old baby and his convalescing mother. In the family of Dhaniram Boro, headman of Kachibari, only two members survived—Tenzing Bodosa, just 10 years old then, and his mother, who were not at home when the family was attacked by militants of the now-defunct Bodo Liberation Tigers. The headman had incurred their wrath by refusing to provide food or shelter to its cadres.

“Our own people killed us,” says Tenzing. “I was left with only my mother. Since then it’s been a learning experience—every hour of my life taught me certain things and made me stronger. I even worked as a sweeper in a private school in Guwahati before going to Shillong, Bangalore and then Malaysia (to earn a living).”



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