Sarma: House must ratify definition of ‘Assamese people’

3 months ago 33
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GUWAHATI: A day after four members of the Union home ministry-sponsored committee went public with the confidential report containing recommendations for defining “Assamese people” with 1951 as the base year, Assam minister

Himanta Biswa

Sarma on Wednesday said the Centre cannot accept this classification unless the assembly ratifies it.
“Twelve members of a committee cannot define Assamese people. This recommended definition cannot be the final one. This has to be ratified by the state assembly. The right of ratifying or framing the definition of

Assamese people

lies with the

legislative assembly

only. Unless the definition is adopted by the assembly, the Centre cannot do anything on implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord,” Sarma said.
Clause 6 of the accord says constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguard, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social and linguistic identity, and heritage of the Assamese people.
“How do we determine on the basis of 1951? Do we need a separate NRC based on 1951 for this, or will it be done on land documents…? Many of us do not have land documents dating back to 1951. The committee is silent on this,” he said.
The minister said the BJP-led Assam government is not in favour of ratification of adoption of definition at the moment when the term of the current assembly is set to end in eight months. He added that with no approved definition at hand, the ongoing process of delimitation of assembly constituencies for reservation of seats for “Assamese people” is unlikely to be completed before the coming election.
“We do not want to move any definition at the fag-end of the tenure of this Assembly... It will be better if the new Assembly does so. But nevertheless, if the Assembly thinks that even at this fag-end we ratify the definition, we have to,” Sarma added. He said the Centre will implement the Clause 6 and has already initiated the preliminary work.

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