GUWAHATI: To douse the flames of public anger against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the Assam Cabinet on Saturday took several decisions favouring the state’s indigenous population.
The state’s Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the Cabinet decided that the government would bring a law whereby the state’s indigenous people would be able to sell their land only to fellow indigenous people and not to migrants “who might have come in 1971, 1951 or 1941”.
The land in most states of the Northeast is protected for the locals.
Sarma said buying and selling of land in peripheries of heritage sites would be viewed as a crime. He said that the Cabinet decided to urge the Central government to make Assamese, Assam’s “state language” by amending Article 345 of the Constitution.
Bengali-majority Barak Valley, Bodo-majority Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) and the two hill districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao will be kept outside its purview.
The minister said Assamese would be made a compulsory subject up to Class X in all schools, irrespective of their medium. Barak Valley, BTAD and the two hill districts will be kept outside its purview, he said.
The Cabinet also decided to urge the Centre to give constitutional status to the state’s six autonomous councils.
“The Koch-Rajbongshi community has been living in conflicts and facing political and economic challenges. The Cabinet decided to create the Kamatapur Autonomous Council in undivided Goalpara district excluding BTAD and Rabha-Hasong areas. Similarly, two autonomous councils will be created for Moran and Motok communities. The law for the same will be passed in the next Assembly session and the election will be held in May next year,” Sarma said.
He said that the government would allocate Rs 250 crore to the Tai-Ahom Development Council for development of local areas and that funds will also be allocated to Chutia Development Council and Koch-Rajbongshi Development Council.
The Cabinet also decided to urge the Centre to resolve the Bodo problem at the earliest.
Other major decisions of the Cabinet were increasing the reservation of the number of seats for some indigenous communities in medical colleges, reserving seats for students belonging to the Tea Tribe community in colleges, constructing 100 new schools in tea estates and hiking daily wages of tea garden workers of the Assam Tea Corporation Limited.