Guwahati, Wednesday, November 2, 2016
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Call for Centre’s clear-cut stand
AJIT PATOWARY
 GUWAHATI, Nov 1 - The Central government should come up with a clear-cut statement that it is not intending to settle in Assam the fresh migrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan who are fleeing these countries in the face of religious persecution. It is not clear as to why the Centre is totally mum on the issue when a charged situation is being witnessed in Assam on the issue, said ex-MLA Ajay Dutta.

Dutta, an inheritor of an old Bengali settler family of Assam and a respectable leader of the Bengali-speaking people of the State, was talking to this newspaper on the issue of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which has raised many questions in the State on the intention of the BJP-led government at the Centre. It is alleged by several quarters that this Bill, if enacted, would reduce the indigenous peoples of the State into minorities, as it would legalise settlement of the post-1971 migrants from Bangladesh going against provisions of the Assam Accord.

On the other hand, a State Minister is strongly advocating that settlement of the Hindu Bangla migrants is a must for the Assamese society to keep its dominant status in Assam intact. This has intensified the doubts of the indigenous peoples of the State about the real intention of the Centre.

Under such a situation, the comment made by Dutta assumes significance.

Dutta also urged the civil society organisations of the State, irrespective of their linguistic and religious allegiance, to sit together and speak in unison that no step which harms the interest of the State would be accepted by the State’s people.

“We should not allow ourselves to be swayed by the tricks of the vested interest circles and the unity of the people of Assam should be protected at any cost,” he said.

However, he maintained that a major chunk of the non-Muslim population in Bangladesh in its northern part, that is – Rangpur, Rajshahi, Dinajpur etc., places are Rajbongshis. They constitute about 90 per cent of the non-Muslim population there. They are followed by the Rabhas and the Namasudras in matters of numerical strength.

Similarly, Hajongs and Garos constitute a big chunk of the non-Muslims in Mymensingh district and in Sylhet district, Bishnupriya and Meiteis, apart from the Bengali Hindus, constitute a big chunk of the non-Muslims. In Chittagong and Chittagong Hill Tract, Chakmas, Buddhist Baruahs and Riyangs are the majority among the non-Muslims, said Dutta.

Dr Ardhendu Dey, another widely respected leader of the Bengali speaking people of the State, alleged that some politically motivated, ambitious people have spread a schism among the Assamese and Bengali-speaking people of the State on the issue of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

It is high time to discard the old banal ideas, which are not congenial for peaceful co-existent of the various groups of people of the State, he said and appealed to all sections of the State’s people to tread cautiously at this hour when mutual mistrust is sought to be spread by some quarters for their narrow personal gains.

At the same time, he also appealed to all those concerned to ponder over the issue of those post-1971 migrant Bengali Hindu families who have been staying here for the past several decades and have accepted Assamese language and culture as their own. “We must ensure their assimilation with the indigenous Assamese society permanently. The process of their assimilation with the indigenous society should not be disturbed for the greater interest of the Assamese society,” he said.

However, he described the present move of the BHP-led Central government to amend the Citizenship Act as a politically motivated one and maintained that there should not be any fresh influx from any country to Assam.

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