Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday appealed to the Assamese people not to sell their land to any "suspected foreigner" in order to safeguard the culture and identity of the indigenous population.
He also urged the people, especially youths, to be economically independent, emphasising the importance of financial growth for the progress of any community.
Speaking at the 'Swahid Divas' programme, observed in memory of martyrs of Assam Agitation, at Boragaon in Guwahati, Sarma said, "I believe that if every Assamese takes a pledge to not sell his or her land to any suspected foreigner, our 'jati' (community) will be protected. Some families sell their land for economic benefit, but many families don't even need the money and yet they sell it to suspected foreigners." "Let us pledge not to sell our land to any suspected foreigner anymore," he said, adding that the government will bring in a law prohibiting the sale of land to "outsiders" in places such as Majuli, Barpeta and Batadrawa, centres of Vaishnavite culture in the state.
Sarma, who recounted his association with the six-year-long Assam Agitation against illegal immigrants, culminating with the signing of the Assam Accord in August 1985, also highlighted the emphasis the leaders of the movement had laid on economic independence.
"The agitation was not just based on emotions, but also logic. Many leaders of the agitation had dreamt of making Assam economically self-sufficient and youths of that time had also responded by taking up odd jobs.
"But that is not the case anymore. Taking advantage of the Assamese youths' lack of will to work, suspected foreigners have taken over trade and commerce in important places," he claimed.
Asserting that economic independence is as important as steps taken for safeguarding culture and language, the CM urged the youth to be more hard-working and appreciate the dignity of labour.
Sarma also warned government officials who have "compromised" the progress of the state for some form of gratification, maintaining that society is weakened if the government officials fail to deliver.
"If some officials have compromised the sanctity of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for some curd and local chicken (as gratifications), we can not progress. I warn those who included their (suspected foreigners) names in the NRC fraudulently that we are working on identifying them," he said.
The CM also stressed the role of society in protecting the community's interest along with the government's initiatives.
Referring to the martyrs' memorial coming up in Boragaon area of Guwahati, Sarma said the 'Swahid Stambh' (martyrs' column) and 'Swahid Udyan' (park) will serve as reminders for future generations to work for the cause of their 'jati' (community).
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