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

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Struggle for Empowerment

The struggle of the adivasis in Assam is basically one for identity and empowerment.

Assam is still reeling under the impact of the November 24 incidents in Guwahati with road blockades and strikes being carried out by student and youth bodies belonging to the tea garden labour community. There have also been reports of isolated attacks on Assamese households in upper Assam where the majority of the state’s 800 plus tea gardens are located. However, timely intervention by the All Assam Adivasi Students’ Association and the All Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association, which have joined hands with the All Assam Students’ Union to stem the violence, seems to have yielded results and the state is limping back to normalcy.

Following the Guwahati violence, almost all the political parties and civil society organisations have extended unequivocal support for the granting of scheduled tribe (ST) status to the adivasis – a term now being commonly used to denote the (approximately) two million tea garden and ex-tea garden labour population of Assam. Yet, it would be somewhat simplistic to conclude that the granting of ST status to the adivasis should not be a difficult affair. For, the issue is fraught with complexities which are typical of a state like Assam where the tribal question is taking on ever new dimensions.

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