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    Who is an ‘Assamese’? In Assam, the definition of Assamese stirred a hornet’s nest

    The high-level committee in its report defined that anyone living in the state before 1951 and their descendants should be treated as Assamese indigenous

    GUWAHATI: The definition of the Assamese has once again stirred the hornet’s nest in the state. With All Assam Students’ Union (AASU)  releasing the confidential report of the high-level committee for Assam Accord Clause 6 implementation, politics in Assam has once again started to concentrate around the definition of an ‘Assamese’.

    The high-level committee in its report defined that anyone living in the state before 1951 and their descendants should be treated as Assamese indigenous. The committee also recommended that land rights in the state should be restricted to those defined as Assamese and there should be an 80%-100% reservation for the Assamese in the state’s seats in Parliament as well as in the state Assembly and other local bodies.

    While the majority of the organizations in the state had backed the definition, Badruddin Ajmal led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) has raised objection to it.

    On Thursday, the AIUDF said that the definition would create more divisions amongst the people of the state. “Both the Centre and State government have been trying to create more divisions amongst the society here. While the government’s move to bring in Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has encountered violence and massive protests in the state, they are trying to bait the people of the state with the promise of implementing Clause 6 of Assam Accord,” said Aminul Islam, AIUDF general secretary.

    He added that already the Citizenship Act in the country was amended after signing of the Assam Accord and everyone has accepted the cutoff date of 1971, now by setting up a separate cutoff year for identifying the indigenous people of the state would again create confusion and disturbance.

    In 1985, bringing an end to six-year-long violent movement in the state, the Assam Accord was signed. It accepted that those who entered the country from Bangladesh before the midnight of March 24, 1971, would be treated as an Indian citizen in Assam.

    However, for the constitutional safeguard of the indigenous people of the state, Clause 6 was inserted. It promised constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people. However, till now the definition of the Assamese was not set officially.

    “What will happen to those who had come to Assam after 1951 and settled here. Will not they be eligible for government jobs and land rights?” Islam asked.

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