The 6 communities: the tea-tribes, Morans, Muttocks, Koch Rajbangshis, Chutiyas and Tai Ahoms currently come under Other Backward Classes (OBCs) or Most Other Backward Classes (MOBCs) in the state. Among these, the tea-tribes form the largest group. Many tribal groups are afraid that it will lead to competition for the few jobs available and for the depleted natural resources. As a result, most tribal of the region oppose their inclusion. Moreover, the adivasis are considered outsiders since they were brought by the British from Jharkhand as plantation labourers.
The ancestors of these tea-tribes were brought to tea plantations in Assam from the Chhota Nagpur plateau called the ‘labour-catchment area’ three to four generations back and today they form the backbone of the state’s tea plantation economy; they speak Assamese and identify themselves as ‘Assamese’. The British appropriated the land of the local populations through unjust means. Since the adivasis worked on this land as indentured labour, the resentment of the local people at losing their land to the colonialist (partners) is also not surprising.
Despite tall promises of successive governments both, at the Centre and the state, these 6 communities are still battling for their rightful status. Besides the fight for citizenship rights, tea-tribes have over the years also faced extreme physical hostility, particularly from the dominant tribal groups in the state.