A new book in Assamese, “Asomar Prekyapatat Chha Janagusthir Jibon Gatha” (A study on different aspects on the tea community of Assam) by Nakul Kurmi is expected to be a valuable document on the community. The book has been published by Katha Publications.
Kurmi, a school teacher in Assam’s Sonitpur district has been diligently maintaining a diary where he has been recording little snippets and news items about the people of his community which appears in the local dailies. He has also been writing about the issues concerning his community in the local dailies. He has compiled everything in a book form which can be a valuable guide to any researcher wanting to know about the community.
The book brought to light the plight of the tea tribe community who were brought to Assam as indentured labourers by the British and who are now an exploited lot that works mainly as tea garden labourers.
The heterogenous adivasi community of Lower Assam, comprising mainly of Santhals and other tribes like the Oarons, Munda, Kharia, Shawra, Bhumij, Bhil and Ho who had to face the worst ever ethnic conflict with the Bodo tribe in 1996, had organised themselves into militant groups like Adivasi Cobra Military of Assam and Birsa Commando Force which have now declared a ceasefire. These groups have increasingly been growing restive due to the delay by the government in meeting their demands.
The book has touched upon many interesting aspects like the role of the community in the freedom movement in Assam, the first female martyr in the freedom struggle Mangri Orang and the contribution of the tea community in the sports, journalism, theatre, culture in Assam.
The book has created a stir. “This book should be present in every household of the community. There is already a huge demand for the book from the different districts in Assam,” says Kurmi. It has been reviewed in various local dailies. A monthly magazine, Sikor, which is brought out in the Sadri language from Assam’s Dibrugarh district has reviewed the book. Kurmi now plans to get it translated to English and Hindi.