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Assam: Tribals demand legal protection against illegal immigration

K Anurag in Guwahati | September 08, 2008 11:44 IST

Ethnic tribal groups in Assam have called upon the Indian government to enforce an 'effective' legal mechanism to tackle the problem of illegal migration from Bangladesh.

The All Assam Tribal Sangha, an umbrella organization of different ethnic groups in the state has exhorted the Central government to gear up vigilance infrastructure along the borders with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan to stymie the demographic invasion across the border.

The Sangha, which had a meeting with different tribal bodies on the issue, expressed concern that infiltration from Bangladesh would intensify in the coming days, with environmentalists predicting that one-third of Bangladesh could be submerged because of rising of sea level as a fall out of global warming.

'Given the ominous portents of the developments, it is high time that an effective legal mechanism was evolved to hasten the detection and deportation of infiltrators. Of equal importance is to have a strong deterrent force along the borders of not just Bangladesh but Nepal and Bhutan as well,' the Sangha stated in a resolution.

Demanding special constitutional safeguards--if necessary by amending the Constitution--for the indigenous populace of the state, the tribal body said that all the tribal autonomous council areas in Assam should be brought under the sixth schedule of the Indian Constitution besides introducing the inner-line permit system in the state. It also demanded a blanket ban on transfer of land ownership in tribal dominated areas or tribal belts in the state.

"We also want a probe by a competent body into the illegal transfer of land in tribal belts and tribal blocks of the State so that the encroachers may be evicted. In addition, the government should introduce a new tribal land policy and facilitate free grant of land to landless tribal people," the Sangha said, adding that the existing autonomous councils should be reconstructed democratically and given more power and funds.

The body of ethnic groups has constituted a 15-member core panel to launch a coordinated agitation against 'unabated cross border migration' and decided to hold a convention of 'sons of the soil' within this month to involve different tribal social organizations in the tirade against illegal migrants.

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