GOSSAIGAON, April 28 - The victims of the Bodo-Adivasi ethnic clashes of 1996-98, residing in several villages of Barobadha Forest range are now passing their days locked up in their homes facing a starvation-like situation, in the wake of the nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus.
It may be mentioned that since the 1996-98 ethnic conflict, these 232 displaced Adivasi families have been living in forest villages like Dhaspas, Alupara, Motorjhora, Borobadha and Santipara under Borobadha Forest Range of Dhubri Forest Division. Their present population is 1178. These people have no ration cards nor have they got any government assistance. Usually, they earn their livelihood by daily labour and by procuring firewood. Now, as the nation is under lockdown since March 24, these people are cooped up inside their thatched houses and are facing a starvation-like situation.
They are now forced to collect wild potatoes, arums and leaves from the forests for consumption. They used to procure firewood for selling at the Gossaigaon market, but the lockdown has put a stop to it. The police also does not allow these people to carry firewood by thelas or on bicycles. No one, from the government machinery, NGOs, student organisations, political parties, individuals, industrialists, social workers, teachers of educational institutions or the police have turned up to feed them a morsel. Their small children are also in dire need of nutritious food.
Talking to a group of scribes, these people reiterated that they are permanent residents of Assam. But due to non-availability of reliable documents, they have failed to obtain ration cards. For the last 20-22 years, they have been residing in these villages facing great troubles. They have even been deprived of free rice and cash aid of Rs 500. To solve their misery, a qualified Santhal youth of the locality, Laxmi Kanta Marandi, has come forward. He has been constantly communicating with the SDO (C), Gossaigaon in this regard, but the civil administration has not yet taken any action so far.