TEZPUR, May 11 - With an objective to end the long-pending land patta issue under the Forest Right Act-2006 to the Bodos and other traditional forest dwellers of the region, the All Bodo Students’ Union assisted by the Sonitpur and Biswanath district units of ABSU organised a symposium here on Thursday.
The topic under reference was, ‘Implementation of Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act-2006: Access to Fundamental Rights of Forest Dwellers’.
The day-long event, conducted by ABSU president Pramod Boro was attended by Jiten Borgoyary, former Commissioner and Secretary, Aditya Khaklary, general secretary of Tribal Sangha and coordinator of CCTOA, Poritosh Chakma from the Asian Centre for Human Rights, New Delhi, Padmalochan Doley, general secretary of TMPK, Pratibha Brahma, vice president of TRIFED, Raju Narzary, executive director of NERSWN, Gobinda Basumatary, general secretary of NDFB (P), Jolti Deka, president of Modahi Students’ Union, Dipen Boro and Lawrence Islary, among others.
Stressing on immediate implementation of the Forest Right Act-2006, Jiten Borgoyary mentioned that tribal people possess the legitimate right to inhabit forest areas.
Expressing his grave concern over the government’s indifferent attitude towards solving this long-pending issue, he further said that tribal people are very much aware about the need to conserve the forest as racially they have a close proximity with the forest and accordingly, they possess the right of living in the forest.
Aditya Khaklary, president of Tribal Sangha and coordinator of CCTO criticised the anti-tribal activity of some organisations and government officials’ apathy. He mentioned that at a time when the Centre under the Constitution passed the FRA-2006 to give land title to the tribal people living across the country, some influential forces have been trying to hamper the entire process, thereby harming the communal fabric.
Referring to the history of how tribal people are close to the nature, he also said that India’s forests are home to hundreds of people, including many Scheduled Tribes, who live in or near the forest areas of the country.
“Since time immemorial, the tribal communities of India have had an integral and close-knit relationship with forests and have been dependent on them for their livelihood and existence. The relationship was mutually beneficial and not one-sided.
However, the rights were rarely recognised by the authorities, and in the absence of real ownership of land, the already marginalised local dwellers suffered. In the name of implementation of forest conservation, historical injustice was going on upon the tribal people. But the most regrettable thing is that though the Act had materialised by 2010, it is yet to be implemented in Assam due to the negative attitude of some government officials,” he alleged, adding that instead of executing the FRA-2006, the government is going to put another burden upon the tribal people through the project CAMPA.
Presenting his opinion on the issue, Paritosh Chakma from the Asian Centre for Human Rights said, before implementation of various forest conservation Acts, tribal people across the region were inhabiting the forest areas and obviously deserve the right to continue as soul forest dwellers.
Another speaker at the event, Pratibha Brahma urged the tribal people to stand united against the government’s alleged conspiracy to deprive the Bodos and other tribal people from their right to live in the forest areas.
Speaking to the media, ABSU president Pramod Boro said that for political mileage, the BJP government in the state has given land pattas to the tea tribe people. But despite having an existing statutory provision (Forest Right Act-2006) for settling the long-pending tribal people’s land problem, the government has not done anything. He also urged the government to deal with the issue sincerely or else the ABSU would build up a vigorous movement against the government’s attitude.