Barak people raise questions about 'indigenous' and 100% reservation

Special Correspondent

SILCHAR, April 5: The people of Barak Valley have raised relevant questions about the definition of Assamese khilanjia and 100% reservation issue and made the following observations. Articulating their views through Barak Upatyaka Banga Sahitya O Sanskriti Sammelan (BUBSOSS), it has been pointed out that such demands for the sake of ‘sons of the soil’ only make a mockery of the multilingual, multicultural and multireligious state Assam. This polyglot character has emerged through a long historical process and all the communities have their own contributions towards the socio-economic and cultural development.

 With reference to this valley in particular, Bengali, Manipuri, Dimasa, Hindi speaking and other linguistic groups took active part in the freedom movement. Viewed in this context, BUBSOSS has demanded protection, preservation and promotion of cultural, racial and linguistic identity of these various groups. The decision in respect of NRC on the definition of Assamese khilanjia and cent percent reservation cannot do justice to all the linguistic groups and if imposed would give a serious blow to the integrity and solidarity of the state.

 Discrimition towards other linguistic groups would be an infringement on their right to mother tongue. The literary and cultural body has reminded that this valley is home to Dimasa, Manipuri, Bishnupriya Manipuri, Nepali, Kuki, Hmar, Chiraei, Rengmei ga and tea tribes who have been subjected to general deprivation since independence. None of these groups would accept any decision that goes against them. It is due to this approach and attitude which has fragmented Assam into several parts since independence.

 The NRC of 1951 is incomplete and partial document for indication of linkage of citizens in Assam. Regarding the bo fides of the Bengalis. It should not be forgotten that in 1874, Sylhet, Cachar and Goalpara portion of the then Bengal Presidency was partitioned and merged with Assam. It was to increase the population of the state to qualify for a full fledged state under a governor. Viewed from this perspective, a Bengali born in Sylhet, Cachar and Goalpara after 1874 is first a bo fide citizen of India and then a citizen of Assam.

 While demanding justice for the Bengalis, BUBSOSS argues they fit well in the formulated definition of khilanjia or indigenous population of the state. While assuring of their cooperation to the government in all their reformative measures, Banga Sahitya would appeal to the government to maintain the multilingual character of the state and ensure right to mother tongue for all the linguistic groups and at the same time uphold the true spirit of Assam State Official Language Act of 1960.

 BUBSOSS finds an inherent design to deprive the rights of Bengali and other linguistic communities of the state by insisting on khilanjia and cent percent reservation for the Assamese. It would be in the overall interest and integrity of the state that the term ‘Assamese’ in section 6 of Assam Accord 1985 be replaced by ‘people of Assam’. In the light of all that has been stated, Sammelan hopes that language and diversity should be allowed to flourish as a source of strength for making Assam a prosperous, peaceful and integrated state in north east India.

 All these observations have been articulated in a memorandum addressed to the Hon’ble Speaker, Assam Legislative Assembly, Dispur and sent recently. The representation has been signed by Nitish Bhattacharjee, president, Gautam Prasad Dutta, general secretary, Paritosh Chandra Dutta, district president, Hailakandi, Sanjib Deblaskar, convener, Bhasa Akademi, Bishwath Mazumder, assistant secretary, Karimganj, and Masuk Ahmed, district secretary, Karimganj.

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