Guwahati: Senior advocate and Prabajan Virodhi Manch convener Upamanyu Hazarika on Saturday claimed Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s opinion expressed in public that the report of the Clause 6 Committee would not stand the scrutiny of courts is unfortunate and yet another attempt to deny safeguards to indigenous people of Assam who are well on their way of becoming a minority.
Hazarika alleged that it is clear that there was never any intention of providing any safeguards to the indigenous people contrary to the mandate of the Assam Accord, the report of the Clause 6 Committee and the findings in three judgements of the Supreme Court.
In a press statement, Hazarika said, “The Chief Minister’s opinion is groundless and baseless for two reasons – Firstly, his view that the Supreme Court has prescribed a ceiling of 50% for reservation in employment and education is correct as far as other states are concerned but the court has itself recognised with approval the reservation 80-90% granted for indigenous people in other Northeastern states like Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh etc.”
“Supreme Court in three successive judgements – Sarbananda Sonowal I, Sarbananda Sonowal II and Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha has given finding that the indigenous people of Assam face the threat of losing their identity in the face of Bangladeshi influx and therefore need to be protected. The tripartite Assam Accord which assures grant of safeguard to indigenous people of Assam as a compensation for having taken the burden of 23 years of additional illegal immigrants, which has also been nullified by the Chief Minister,” added Hazarika.
Hazarika also stated that newly appointed Assam Chief Minister has highlighted only one aspect that too only relating to employment and educational reservation. There are other important aspects like land reservation, trade licence reservation etc., by the Committee, which are implementable.
“In fact, in BJP ruled states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, land is reserved for locals as also in other Northeastern States. And, on December 21, 2019 as a Minister in the earlier Sonowal Government, the present Chief Minister had given a solemn assurance to the public that legislation would be brought into force in the next assembly session reserving land for the indigenous people. It needs to be emphasized that the primary reason for infiltration from Bangladesh is economic and is the hunger for land which drives the infiltrators/migrants into Assam. Reservation of land for indigenous would disincentives infiltrators reversing the flow,” the senior advocate asserted.
Hazarika also claimed that in any event if the Chief Minister had any doubts, regarding the implementation of some part of the Committee’s report, he could have very well sought a clarification from the distinguished legal experts in the committee, rather than voicing an opinion in the public. “If the desire to was sincere, he would have found a solution to the problem identified by him rather than scuttle the report,” alleged Hazarika.
He also stated that CM Himanta Biswa Sarma’s political career has been largely in the Congress where he has played an active role in the appeasement of Bangladeshi and acted with great urgency and alacrity in taking steps for their protection. To illustrate, within one month of the Congress Government coming to power in 2001, affidavit was filed in the pending case asserting that the IMDT Act was valid, which was rejected by the court and the IMDT Act was set aside. Thereafter, IMDT was sought to be reinstated through rules under the Foreigners Act, set aside again by the Supreme Court in 2006.
“As Assam Accord implementation Minister in 2010, compensation was granted to those who attacked and burned the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Barpeta, thereby stalling the NRC process. And, over 90 of those granted compensation turned out to be foreigners. When the NRC process was sought to be revived through a petition in the Supreme Court the Government acted promptly in filing an affidavit opposing it, which was rejected by the Court and NRC according to a specified timeline was directed to be implemented. The promptitude and sincerity with which Dr. Sarma pursued the interest of the Bangladeshis while in the Congress has not been evident in the last 5 years in favour of the indigenous people when he has been in the BJP Government. Now as a Chief Minister, to give such opinions in public, not only weakens the case but is an affront and insult to the Assam Movement, Assam Accord and the sacrifices of the indigenous people in their fight for identity over the last 40 years,” Hazarika stated further in the press statement.