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Tea garden workers are the real Assamese, says Himanta

Tea garden workers are the real Assamese, says Himanta

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GUWAHATI: The BJP government in the state might have failed to keep its pre-poll promise to fulfill the long standing demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status of the tea community in Assam or to establish a definition of Assamese to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, but it has at least recognised the tea community as the “real Assamese”, thanks to the assembly elections ahead.

Addressing a mammoth gathering of tea workers in a tea workers’ financial grant award ceremony here, senior Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) chief “Paresh Baruah says the tea community people are not Assamese. But, I say the people of the tea gardens are the real Assamese.”

“When we go to America or England, what we find is Assam tea. Assam is known across the world for tea. We feel proud. But, it’s you people who produce tea. Our pride is based on the hard work of our tea community brethren to produce tea,” he elaborated.

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Earlier he said, the BJP government in the state has impressed upon the tea garden managements to provide all necessary facilities to the workers “because, it’s the workers who produces green leaves and not you owners”.

Sarma made the remarks in presence of Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and state chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

The tea community are multi ethnic groups of tea garden workers and their dependents in Assam. They are stated to be the descendants of indigenous people brought by the British colonial planters as indentured labourers from the regions of present-day Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh into colonial Assam during 1860-90s in multiple phases for the purpose of being employed in the tea gardens industry as labourers.

Assam is currently home to nearly 65 lakh tea community people, who were once considered a permanent vote bank of the Congress till they switched side to the BJP over the past half a decade after the ruling party promised it ST status in Assam. The promise, however, remained unfulfilled despite repeated reminders from the community. Five other indigenous communities of the state have also been demanding ST status.