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‘Only reservation can prevent locals from being minorities’

GUWAHATI, May 12: Prabajan Virodhi Mancha (PVM) convener Upamanyu Hazarika has rued that while the issue of deportation of foreigners has been hogging the limelight in Assam all along, the vital issue of constitutional safeguards for the indigenous people of the State has been relegated to the backbench. If this trend continues, he feels, nothing can prevent the indigenous people from being reduced to a minority in their own land of birth.

Talking to the media here on Saturday, Hazarika said: “It’s only reservation that can make the indigenous people of the State secure on their own land. By reservation, I mean reservation of land rights, reservation in issuance of trade license, reservation in education, reservation of government jobs etc for the indigenous people of Assam by taking 1951 as the cut-off year. It’s the only way to prevent the indigenous people of Assam from becoming minorities in their own land.”

Hazarika further said: “With a view to making that really happen, we have been carrying a signature campaign since last year. On May 19, we’re going to send the signatures supporting our demands to the Prime Minister from as many as 40 places in central and upper Assam. Our other demand is cancellation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. We’ve already got signatures of five lakh people, exceeding our target of three lakh.”

Hazarika lamented that even 33 years after the singing of the Assam Accord, only 3,000 foreigners had been deported from the State. “This only reflects on the lack of political will and honesty. We’ve raised the issues now so as to make them burning issues in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election. We demand that the government should bring a law on our demands before the next Lok Sabha poll,” he said.

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Ankur Kalita