Staff Reporter GUWAHATI, Dec 10 - Implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord will ensure political, social, cultural and economic rights of the indigenous communities of the state, and the NDA regime is committed to achieving that objective, Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Tuesday.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal along with his ministerial colleagues unveiling a plaque during the foundation stone laying ceremony, at Paschim Boragaon in Guwahati on Tuesday. – UB Photos
Speaking at the foundation laying ceremony of the Swahid Smarak Kshetra and Swahid Udyan at Paschim Boragaon here, Sarma said that the Assamese community is facing a grave threat. “Implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord is the key. This will facilitate reservation of seats for the indigenous people of the State and help in protecting the language and culture of the locals,” he said.
Sarma added, “If the Assamese community has to be protected then we have to think logically and not emotionally. We started the Assam Agitation with an aim to expel all foreigners with 1951 as the cut-off date. Then emotion led us to accept 1971 as the cut-off. That same emotion of the Assamese people should not reach a stage tomorrow where we will agree to Badruddin Ajmal becoming chief minister of the State. Emotion has to make way to logic at some point. We may have lost the chance to make 1951 the cut-off date, but we should all resolve not to lose the spirit of 1951.”
The minister said that leaders of the Assam Agitation had rejected the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s proposal for talks with 1966 as the cut-off date. “The agitationists refused that offer. The agitation continued. Many became martyrs... but then in 1985, the pact was signed taking 1971 as the cut-off date. Was consent of the families of martyrs taken before acceptance of 1971 as the cut-off? Was any national convention held to discuss it? The dream, to realise which Khargeswar Talukdar, Dilip Huzuri and others attained martyrdom, remained unfulfilled. Khargeswar Talukdar sacrificed his life for 1951 as cut-off. Nothing was done over the years to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. The people against whom the agitation was conducted were 22 per cent of the total population at that time. Now their number has gone up to 35 per cent. Now those very people are shouting the slogan ‘Jai Aai Asom’. They are shouting ‘Jai Aai Asom’ at Hatigaon and Dakhingaon in Guwahati. Those people against whom the martyrs of Assam Agitation struggled are now talking about the future of the Assamese language,” said Sarma.
Addressing the meeting, Agriculture Minister and AGP president Atul Bora said that the government headed by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is committed to implementation of Clause 6.
“During the Assam Agitation, leaders of the movement had stated that there are 45 lakh illegal immigrants in Assam. But that figure did not get reflected in the NRC. Most of the foreigners were able to get their names included in the NRC. 1951 was the target cut-off during the Agitation. But even those foreigners who entered Assam post 1971 are yet to be deported. So we have realised that Clause 6 is the only option left for protection of the language, culture and political rights of the indigenous people. We believe that the Assamese people will be protected if Clause 6 is implemented,” said Bora.
He added that local people of Assam are worried about the change in the State’s demography. “We need a shield. And that is why we have demanded that 90 per cent of the seats in the Assembly be reserved for indigenous people. We want constitutional protection for the locals and ST status for six communities. There is no repatriation treaty with Bangladesh, so how can you deport foreigners back to that country?” Bora said.
In his speech, BJP state president Ranjeet Kumar Dass said that the dream of Khargeswar Talukdar and other martyrs of Assam Agitation has not been fulfilled.
“The cut-off date of 1951 did not become a reality. Khargeswar Talukdar’s soul must be weeping. His own home constituency Bhabanipur is now represented by a representative of Badruddin Ajmal. We need to ensure that this does not continue. That is why we have taken steps to implement Clause 6. Only then will Khargeswar Talukdar’s soul stop weeping,” said Dass.