Even as thousands of protesters occupied streets in Assam protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019, which was debated and passed in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, Birendra Prasad Baishya, the lone Rajya Sabha member of the Asom Gana Parishad, a coalition partner in the NDA registered his opposition to the Bill saying that it would cause grave threat to the language and culture of the people of Assam.
Baishya also demanded that Assam should be brought under the Inner Line Permit regime to protect the state from the impact of the Bill.
Baishya’s statement came hours after Home Minister Amit Shah mentioned in the Upper House of the Parliament that a committee has already been formed to implement the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord in a bid to protect the culture, language and rights to a representation of the natives of the state.
While speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Baishya said, “We the people in Assam live in great insecurity today fearing that our language and culture would be extinct forever. My insecurities are not driven by any emotion. Rather they transpire from facts. For 36 years since the year 1836, the Bengali language was imposed on Assam. In the year 1960, during the Congress rule, people had to struggle to have Assamese as the state language. Many Assamese youth had to lay their lives to see their mother tongue Assamese as their state language. Even in the year 1972, we had to struggle to have Assamese as the medium of instruction. After all these struggles Assamese people have established their mother tongue as one of the best languages in the world. But the CAB would lead to an influx of additional people most of whom are Bengalis. They will threaten the existence of society.”
The Member of Parliament from Assam also requested the Centre to adopt special measures to ensure that the Assamese language remains the state’s official language forever, “I request the Home Minister and the government that we the people of Assam want Assamese to be the state language forever. If necessary the Constitution of India should be amended to make it possible.”
He also cited the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord saying that there is a provision in the Assam Accord to protect the indigenous culture and heritage in Assam, “The home minister has given relief to various states in the North East like Inner Line Permit. To protect Assam, implement ILP there. Earlier governments did not initiate the measures of Clause 6 in Assam. But this government has taken steps to do it.”
He also reminded the government that lakhs of people have hit the streets against the Bill and requested the Bill should not be passed in haste.
In the earlier part of the Rajya Sabha proceedings Shah reminded the house that after signing of the Assam Accord in the year 1985, the earlier governments did not take any measures to implement the provisions in it to protect the culture, language and political rights of the indigenous people.
He also said that after Narendra Modi came to power, a committee was formed to suggest ways to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and appealed the committee to come up with suggestions as early as possible
The Clause 6 of the Assam Accord says, “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.”
To implement the clause, the Ministry of Home Affairs on July 2019 formed a high-level committee under the chairmanship of Justice Biplab Kumar Sarma and fixed six month time to come up with suggestions to implement the provision.
Sources in the BJP blame the committee for not coming up with its suggestion till date.
“Why has the committee not come up with suggestions to date? Does it takes so long to come up with suggestions?” asked a source in the saffron party.
Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya, who is the advisor of the All Assam Students Union and also a member of the high-level committee recently said to the media, “We were given six month time and that period is still going on.”
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Updated Date: Dec 12, 2019 16:44:29 IST