India’s tribal groups demand justice for Assam’s tea estate workers

AIUFWP and Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan express solidarity with workers in tea estates being cleared for an airport project

Assam Tea Estate Worker

Expressing solidarity with Assam’s tea estate workers, the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) and Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan on May 18, 2022 condemned the state government for bulldozing a part of Doloo Tea Estate to pave the way for a Greenfield Airport project.

On May 12, 2022 thousands of police and CRPF personnel, public administrative officers, along with hundreds of bulldozers barged into the Doloo tea estate, located in Cachar, Assam. Their mission was to evict nearly 2,000 tea estate workers to build an international airport. This will effectively dismantle the tea state comprising 30 lakh trees and 2,500 hectares of fertile land.

“Labourers and plantation workers of Doloo tea state are in grief. Their many videos being circulated it is observed that they are demanding the officials and paramilitary forces to leave their tea state. On ground at this moment the only ally of the tea workers struggle has been led by Assam Majoori Shramik Union (AMSU), an affiliate of NTUI,” said the AIUFWP.

According to the government, the MoU for the project was signed between the Doloo Tea Company Limited and three major unions in the region, namely: the Bhartiya Cha Shramik Union (BCSU), the Akhil Bhartiya Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ABCMS) and the Barak Valley Cha Mazdoor Sangh (BVCMS).

Assam Tea Estate Worker

However, the AMSU pointed out that the MoU did not provide any concrete assurance to workers. Further, it does not mention the exact compensation that the state government will pay to the company.

In response to this, the AIUFWP appealed to other rights groups to mobilize and resist the “anti-people bull-dozer government” at the central-level and state-level. Members condemned the Centre amending labour laws and introducing three labor codes. This has allowed for rampant abuse, putting the dignity of labour of all working people at peril, said the AIUFWP.

Similarly, the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan condemned the state repression and illegal land grab affecting marginalised folk in other states like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha as well. In Delhi, AIUFWP’s Ashok Choudhury and Roma Malik, AIKS’s Hannan Mollah, Krishna Prasad and N. K. Shukla, AIKM’s Prem Singh, and other Delhi Solidarity Group members attended the meeting.

The group recollected and condemned the alarming wave of violent repression of land defenders across the county this year. The extractive industrial model together with the state repression is destroying the forest, land and water, said the leaders in a joint press release. The meeting also discussed on-going issues of the government allegedly communally attacking the working class via bulldozer demolitions for corporate benefits.

“This act of govt was condemned and it was resolved that BAA will oppose this kind of politics tooth and nail,” said members.

They resolved to organize state-level conventions in June followed by a national-level convention in July at Raipur Chhattisgarh. Mollah announced that a detailed report compiling all land grab issues titled “land grab issues in the interest of corporate” will be released before the national convention.

Singh called for unity of activists, social movements urgently against the state repression and present model of land grab. Meanwhile, Roma Malik from the extended solidarity to the prolonged organized struggles against eviction of the indigenous communities and marginalized sections across India by the state governments.

Indigenous struggles in other regions

Members also talked about how over 4.5 lakh plants covering 1,70,000 hectares of land in Hasdeo Aranya, Chhattisgarh is being brought down by the state government for coal mining. In Deocha, Birbhum, West Bengal the state government proposed for open cast mining without any consultation with affected families or environmental experts. This despite the project affecting 4,314 households and displacing 21,000 people, of whom 9,034 are from the Santhal community (Scheduled Tribe) and 3,601 from the Scheduled Caste.

In Odisha, seven untouched forests were auctioned by the state government for bauxite and iron ore mining. Similarly in Dhinkia, tribals report brutal police repression on the anti- Jindal protestors, who refuse to hand over their land to the Jindal group. In Koraput, the government conducted a public hearing for getting the environment clearance without allowing dissenting voices in the public hearing. In 2021 a fresh lease for 6 million tons bauxite for 50 years was given without any consent from the Gram Sabha.

In Bihar, Adivasis, who were residing in what the members called the government waste-land, were recently being forcefully evicted without giving any notice. Gujarat’s indigenous folk near Narmada district are allegedly being harassed by the state machinery for upgrading the area surrounding the ‘Statue of Unity’.

Meanwhile, the Rajasthan government proposed a nuclear plant at Banswara which will acquire 107.3 Ha forest land for Mahi Banswara Rajasthan Atomic Power Project. Lastly, in the southern region, the Madras High Court banned cattle grazing inside forest area, and directed the Tamil Nadu government to prohibit cattle–rearers from using forests for grazing.


Doloo tea estate workers protest Greenfield Airport project
Chhattisgarh police arrest tribal rights defender, allegedly on fabricated charges
Were only 1,064 Tribal families displaced in Odisha for mining in the last 10 years?
SC sets aside NGT order shutting down factories operating without Environmental Clearance
Dhinkia: A story of perseverance against administrative oppression



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