GUWAHATI: Amidst a rising debate in Assam on the definition of the term “Assamese”, an NGO has suggested to the Centre-constituted high-level committee working towards the implementation of Clause 6 of Assam Accord that people who settled in the state before January 26, 1951, and their descendants be viewed as Assamese.
The NGO, Assam Public Works (APW), which had first moved the Supreme Court seeking the updation of National Register of Citizens (NRC), also suggested that tribes, castes and communities which have been living in the state since 1826 should be viewed as “indigenous Assamese”.
The suggestion of the NGO was based on the book “Axomiyar Sangya Bisari”. It was written by Naba Kumar Deka Baruah and published by the Assam Sahitya Sabha, the state’s highest literary body.
The APW said, “According to the relevant provisions of Constitution of India, persons who settled in Assam before 19th July, 1948 and their descendants are Indians. Hence, the persons having Nepali, Bangladeshi, European and Chinese origin living in Assam prior to 19th July 1948 and their descendants are Assamese”.
It added that according to the relevant provisions of Constitution, a person, who registered his name in the NRC before January 26, 1951 after settling in Assam and his descendants are also Assamese.
The definition of the term Assamese is of utmost importance as Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, signed in 1985 at the end of six-year-long Assam Agitation, says, “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people”.
The APW suggested that 90% of the seats of MPs, MLAs and local self bodies in the state should be reserved for persons or their descendants belonging to tribes and communities who were inhabitants of Assam prior to January 26, 1951 and remaining 10% may be kept as open for others along with persons or descendants belonging to tribes and communities who were inhabitants of Assam prior to January 26, 1951.
“Ninety per cent of seats for admission into different educational institutions, including government, semi-government and other sectors of employment etc, should be reserved for persons or their descendants belonging to tribes and communities who were inhabitants of Assam prior to January 26, 1951 and remaining 10% may be kept as open for others along with the persons or descendants belonging to tribes and communities having origin as inhabitants of Assam prior to January 26, 1951,” the NGO suggested.
It said illegal immigrants, infiltrating into Assam between January 26, 1951 and March 25, 1971, should be declared as “detected foreigners” and their names should not be registered as a voter for 10 years.
“All illegal immigrants infiltrating into Assam between January 26, 1951 and March 25, 1971 should be made subject to land ceiling of maximum 1.25 katha in urban areas and a maximum of 2.5 katha in rural areas by way of a ‘Minimum Need Programme’ as the land area of Assam cannot be increased,” the APW further suggested.