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

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POPULATION POLICY-Missing the Point

46-point memorandum deals almost entirely with matters educational and cultural. However, Demand No46, dealing with the 'foreign nationals issue', has this significant passage: "...the influx of the non-tribal immigrants and foreign nationals is still going on in Tribal Belts and Blocks and other predominantly general tribal areas of entire Assam unchecked, thus outnumbering and outbalancing the indigenous peace-loving Plains Tribal people of Assam... Today it is practically seen with bitter experience that all 33 Tribal Belts and Blocks including predominantly general tribal areas of Assam have been pushed into a crucial position of being annihilated and extinguished totally by the unchecked continuous encroachment and influx of the so-called non-tribal immigrants and foreign nationals, and the same process has been rendering thousands of tribal people landless and insecure in all spheres of their community life." The (first) Hiteswar Saikia government did precious little about these modest and legitimate demands and grievances. Later, due to various complex factors (including the restrictive concept of who and what constituted the Assamese nationality projected during the anti-foreigner agitation) the tribal youth leadership felt alienated from the 'brave new world' promised by the political successors of the anti- foreigner agitation, the Asom Gana Parishad government, and launched the agitation on March 2, 1987 for the creation (initially) of "a separate state with the status of a Union Territory for the Plains Tribals in the northern valley of the Brahmaputra''; for "District Councils in the Tribal compact areas of Southern valley of the Brahmaputra"; and for "Regional Councils for non- Karbi tribes in Karbi Anglong Autonomous District Council". Over the years, the fiction that the demand for Bodoland reflected the aspirations of all the plains tribal people of the state was dropped. Indeed, when the deal was finally clinched, even the demand for Bodoland was dropped.

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