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Assamese ball in government court

Each community faces its own threat to identity and existence said Upamanyu Hazarika
Upamanyu Hazarika addresses a news conference in Guwahati on Monday

A Staff Reporter   |   Guwahati   |   Published 11.11.19, 07:05 PM

Anti-influx group Prabajan Virodhi Manch on Monday said people’s representatives should have first given their views on constitutional safeguards to the high-level committee on implementation of Clause 6 of Assam Accord so that the committee’s effort does not turn out to be futile.

“At the first instance, the chief minister, MPs and MLAs should have advanced their proposal regarding constitutional safeguards to the committee and then the public could have given their suggestions. Regardless of what the public may suggest or the committee may propose, if the government doesn’t want to implement it, it will be an exercise in futility,” Manch convener and Supreme Court lawyer Upamanyu Hazarika said.

“We appeal to the committee to first seek the views of the government as only then their exercise will be meaningful. Otherwise, it might be conveniently discarded,” Hazarika said.

The committee, which was constituted by the Centre in July this year, has been taking suggestions from individuals and organisations in Assam.

The Manch had also submitted its suggestions last month, saying that the safeguards should be in two stages and at two levels.

“In the first stage, it is necessary to reserve land, employment, trade licence and higher education opportunities for citizens who were residents of Assam till 1951 and their progeny. This will correct the imbalance and injustice to the people of Assam for taking the burden of additional migrants for 23 years. This will ensure that all resources in Assam will be reserved only for those who were citizens till 1951 and not for those who became citizens after 1951,” Hazarika said.

Hazarika said there are over 115 ethnic communities in Assam, some of whom like Tai Phake and Tai Khamyang have a population of 5,000 while some others like the Koch Rajbongshis and Tea Tribes number 60 lakh. Each community faces its own threat to identity and existence. “In the second stage, each of these communities has to be enabled to secure their identity and existence,” he added.

Hazarika said though land is the key issue and the key reason for migration (from Bangladesh to Assam) and needs to be protected first for indigenous people, the high-level committee has still not been granted the authority and the power to give recommendations on land and trade licences, without which any safeguard is meaningless.

“The political class is only interested in reservation of constituencies for indigenous people to perpetuate themselves even when the state becomes dominated by Bangladeshis,” he said.


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