ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Bodoland: The Burden of History

Those who are trying to portray the present crisis in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District as a Hindu-Muslim clash are consciously trying to bring about the polarisation along religious lines. At its core, the issue is about control over land. The current tragic situation in the BTAD is the outcome of wrong policies which have been pursued since Independence, all resulting in the marginalisation of the plains tribal communities and the dispossession of their rights to land. What is urgently required at this present juncture is strong steps to prevent further alienation of tribal land and forest reserves coupled with measures to protect the constitutional rights of the other communities in the BTAD area.

The burden of history is proving ever so heavy for the indigenous peoples of Assam. Since the 1930s,1 the issues of land, immigration, demographic change and identity have been core ones in this region.

In the years immediately preceding Independence when the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League were ranged against each other on the question of immigration of land-hungry peasants from the then East Bengal, the Assam Legislative Assembly debated at length on the land question, the rights of tribal communities to their lands and the demand by the immigrants to scrap the Line System.2

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