Job, Vote, Land for indigenous people of Assam!

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Vote, land, job and representation in the Assembly and Parlament shall be reserved for indigenous people of Assam and the first major steps were taken today when the newly constituted committee set today at New Delhi rolling off a 34-year long wait.

The first meeting of the committee to safeguard the political and cultural right of the indigenous people of Assam was held at North Block in the Home Ministry on Wednesday, an official said.

This is most crucial as one-third of Assam’s population are of Muslims and 90% of them are of immigrant nature and non-indigenous but they control more than 35-40 assembly constituencies and threatened to be the majority in 25 years from now.

The basic objective of the committee is to safeguard the indigenous people of Assam,. The committee will examine the effectiveness of actions taken since 1985 to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and hold discussions with various stakeholders, including social organisations, legal and constitutional experts, eminent persons from the field of art, culture and literature, conservationists, economists, linguists and sociologists.

Briefing newsmen, the Chairman of the Committee former Justice Biplab Kumar Sharma said that representative from tribal communities shall be incorporated in the committee and land issue would also be encompassed.

As the Assam Accord and NRC failed to protect the Indigenous Assamese, the new safeguards are seen as the last resort to protect the indigenous people of Assam

The new committee will recommend the appropriate level of reservations in employment under the government of Assam for the Assamese people and suggest any other measures as may be necessary to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social and linguistic identity and the heritage of the people.

The committee will submit its report within six months.

The members of the committee are Ramesh Borpatragohain, Advocate General, Assam; Niloy Dutta, Advocate General, Arunachal Pradesh; Subhash Das, IAS (retd); Pallav Bhattacharya, IPS (retd); Srishtidhar Dutta, professor (retd); Sumanta Chaliha, author; Jaikanta Sharma, professor and columnist; and Wasbir Hussain, senior journalist.

Other members are Samujjal Bhattacharya, chief adviser, All Assam Students Union (AASU); Dipanka Kumar Nath, president, AASU; and Lurinjyoti Gogoi, general secretary, AASU. Joint Secretary (North East) in the Ministry of Home Affairs will be the member secretary.

Meanwhile, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) has reiterated its demand that seats in Parliament, Assembly and local bodies should be kept reserved for indigenous people of the State under the provisions of the clause.

Clause 6 of the Accord said, “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.”  But it did not talk of political power but the Committee has been given this right too.

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