Official rehabilitation process stalled as many families lack proper papers

Over 30,000 inmates have left relief camps of their own accord to return to the districts of Kokrajhar, Dhubri and Chirang over the past five days. The Bodoland Territorial Council objected to the Assam government’s ‘pro-forma’ list of displaced families that do not possess land documents even as it rejected land documents of around 13,000 displaced families whose papers were cleared by the administration in Kokrajhar and Chirang. During the first phase of rehabilitation, the district administration forwarded the cleared forms, along with copies of land records, filled up by 19,000 families taking shelter in relief camps, to the BTC authorities for verification. However, the BTC rejected the forms of around 13,000 families on the grounds that a single land document had been shown against multiple forms. Several families who had produced copies of the same land document informed the authorities that they belonged to the same family or were descendents, extended family members of the land owner.

A senior official of the Home and Political Department said there was a general understanding regarding the rehabilitation process between the BTC and Group of Ministers (GoM) — that those bearing common land documents may be allowed to return to the plot or plots of land against which the documents were found to be genuine by the BTC. The official claimed the mass exodus from the relief camps was thanks to this understanding and an improvement in the security situation.

Most of those families had fled their homes in Kokrajhar and neighbouring districts in July during clashes between miscreants among the Bodos and Muslims in July and August and taken shelter in the relief camps.

The official told The Hindu that he was hopeful that the return of families from camps was expected to continue for the next few days until the number remaining in the relief camps reached around 20,000 — the number of families whose house had been burnt down and did not possess land documents, including encroachers of the tribal belt or forest land. The GoM and the BTC would be reviewing the entire process after two weeks and decide on their rehabilitation, the official said.

The BTC had insisted that inmates be rehabilitated only after their papers had been verified as the tribal councils and other Bodo bodies had alleged the presence of undocumented migrants among the displaced families.