The Centre, Assam government and eight armed adivasi groups signed a tripartite agreement to end the decades-old crisis of adivasis and tea garden workers.
About the tea tribes community –
- There are more than 1000 tea gardens in Assam where workers originally coming from Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have engaged themselves and subsequently settled in Assam permanently.
- They are known as Tea and Ex-Tea Garden Tribes, who are recognised as Other Backward Classes by the Government.
- These people not only constitute a sizeable chunk of the population in the State but also play major role in tea production of the State.
- People belonging to the tea tribes communities are spread all over the State of Assam.
- Economically, they are quite backward and literacy level among these communities is extremely low.
Why did they chose a violent path?
- Historical injustice —
- These Adivasis, who settled in Assam tea gardens, were subjected to various forms of torture & sufferings (slave like conditions) under the colonial regime.
- Also, the British planters, in collusion with administration, had systematically grabbed the lands of the indigenous tribal population in Assam almost throughout the colonial period.
- Their conditions hardly changed in post-colonial period. As a result, in the post-colonial period, they increasingly mobilised themselves at various levels.
- Identity politics —
- The tea tribes form a distinct population of Assam and are demanding Scheduled Tribe status from the state.
- They are demanding this status to counter the unequal distribution of power and resources in present-day Assam.
- This has unleashed social and political tensions.
- Faced persecution —
- The violence upon the community had increased following the rise of ethnic nationalism and related militancy in Assam.
- There were two ethnic clashes between Bodo and Adivasi during the 1990s at the height of Bodoland statehood movement.
Highlights of the agreement –
- Eight adivasi groups —
- The eight adivasi groups — which together comprise 1,182 cadres — are All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA), AANLA (FG), Birsa Commando Force (BCF), BCF (BT), Santhal Tiger Force, Adivasi Cobra Militant of Assam (ACMA), ACMA (FG) and Adivasi People’s Army (APA).
- These groups have been on a ceasefire pact with the government of India since 2016.
- Settlement agreement —
- The major provisions of the agreement included fulfilling political, economic, and educational aspirations.
- This agreement also aims at protecting, preserving, and promoting social, cultural, linguistic, and ethnic identities.
- An Adivasi Welfare and Development Council would be established by the Government of Assam.
- Necessary measures would be taken for the rehabilitation of cadres of armed groups and for the welfare of tea garden workers.
- A special development package of ₹1,000 crore would be provided over a period of five years for infrastructure development in Adivasi-populated villages and areas.