Condition of the major migrant tribes of Jalpaiguri District: A historical survey over the last hundred years (1901-2000 A.D.)
After the formation of Jalpaiguri district in 1869 the British Government selected the district as a centre of Tea Industry in India. Many migrant tribes namely the Santhals, Mundas, Oraons, Malpahari, Chikboraik etc., came to the district following by the tea industry. But at the beginning of their settlement the tribal workers could not come out from the boundary of the tea gardens. These gardens were seemed like isolated islands. They were physically and mentally tortured by various authorities of tea gardens, money lenders, and land lords etc. In the tea gardens tribal labourers lost their lives affected with black water fever, malaria, dengue, cholera etc. as medical facility was not good. The tribal children did not have the choice to study in their mother tongue. In school they had to study either in Bengali, Hindi or Nepali medium. In Jalpaiguri district, the subsistence economy forced the tribal men and women and their children into manual work. In the post-colonial period the migrant tribes were fully divided into two groups e.g., the Christian and non-Christian. Christianity ensured spread of education among the converted section of the major tribes and in this way helped these people to break through the age-old practices in various respect. Since the last decade of the twentieth century closure and lock-out of tea gardenswere everyday news. As a result the tribal workers were compelled to work elsewhere as daily wage labourers. Being deprived in every sphere the tribals alienated themselves from the main-steam political parties and the tribes of Jalpaiguri district came towards ethnic based associations such as Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Bikash Parishad.