GUWAHATI: Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday said a "false picture" has been given out that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is anti-Assam and assured the indigenous people that their rights will be protected and there will be no threat to their language and culture.
Protests against the Bill which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan have been continuing in the northeast for nearly four weeks.
Sonowal told representatives of Asam Sahitya Sabha and literary bodies of other indigenous communities of the state here that the government "is committed to safeguard the interests and rights of the indigenous people with the proper implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord".
"It is a national policy that the people belonging to six religions seeking domicile in India from the neighbouring countries due to religious persecution would be shared by the whole country.
"But misinformation and rumours have been spread by various agencies that foreigners in hordes will flock the state after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 becomes an Act," the Assam Chief Minister said The "false picture" must not be allowed to persist as the state government comprises indigenous people and is committed to uphold the interests of the local population, he said.
Elaborating on the state government's stand, the chief minister said that rights of the indigenous people of Assam over its land, language, local bodies, panchayat and employment opportunities will be protected with the proper implementation of Clause 6 of Assam Accord.
He urged all literary bodies in the state to make people aware about various aspects of the Bill and the Accord clause, which envisages that appropriate constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the social, cultural, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
"The government is giving land pattas to the landless indigenous people of state and taking all necessary steps to sustain the indigenous people's control over the land and culture of the state," he said.
Sonowal also allayed fears that the interests of scheduled tribes will be affected by granting ST status to six communities of the state and stressed that all measures will be taken to protect existing reservations enjoyed by the ST communities.
The implementation of Assam Language Bill, use of Assamese language in official correspondence of the state government and enlisting Assamese language fonts in Unicode were discussed at the meeting.