GUWAHATI: State Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said that only the State Assembly can finalize the definition of the phrase 'Assamese people', adding that a high-level committee can only offer suggestions in this regard. He has further said that the Centre can take steps for implementation of the Committee's report only after the State Assembly finalizes the definition of the 'Assamese people'.
Addressing the media here on Wednesday, Sarma pointed out, "The report of the High-Power Committee on Clause 6 of the Assam Accord itself has said that it will take two years to implement the suggestions made in the report. There are many complex matters that need further verification."
Taking a dig at the AASU (All Assam Students' Union) Sarma said, "I don't know as to why the AASU made public the report of the High-Power Committee. The students' body said that the government is not sincere on the issue. Obviously it will say like that, because as of now, the AASU is a political party. Earlier, the AASU was non-political."
On the cut-off year for the identification of the 'Assamese people', Sarma said, "The High-Power Committee has suggested that people coming to Assam and staying here before 1951 are to be considered as 'Assamese people'. However, the problem lies in the fact that many Assamese people do not have the required documents. What will be their fate, then? Won't we call them Assamese? Should we prepare another NRC (National Register of Citizens) by taking 1951 as the cut-off year? And if we don't, many people will submit forged documents to identify themselves as 'Assamese people'. We need to thoroughly examine the entire issue.
"However, the government will place it in the Assembly — maybe in this session or the next one. The definition of the phrase 'Assamese people' will be discussed on the floor of the Assembly. The definition may be rectified. It's certain that this Assembly will finalize the definition of 'Assamese people' so as to enable the Centre to implement the recommendations of the High-Power Committee.
"Without a clear-cut definition of the phrase 'Assamese people', can seats be reserved for them? The State government will certainly perform its duty on this vital topic. Moreover, the definition of the 'Assamese people' should not be decided in haste."
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