Land rights to indigenous folks;
Noting the threat perception ?
New law wherein land rights cannot be transferred to non-indigenous people. Another is to make Assamese language mandatory in all schools. Obviously laws meant to protect the interests of the indigenous folks of Assam in the face of the stiff opposition put up against the Citizenship Law recently enacted by the Centre. Need to protect the interests of the indigenous folks and at the same time grant cover to protect the indigenous people of Assam and herein lies so many interesting points. If as the Government thinks that the Citizenship Amendment Act will not pose any threat to the indigenous people, then where is the need to enact a new law which will make sure that no land is transferred to non-indigenous people. Or will it be a case of arguing that the non-indigenous folks are already settled in Assam and hence no fear of fresh influx ? Whatever the case, the very fact that the Assam Cabinet has discussed this point and which the Assembly is set to pass, should more than tell a significant story that here is a State Government taking cognizance of the threat perception felt by the indigenes of Assam. As stated earlier in this column, be very clear. The stand of the people of Assam does not revolve around who is a Hindu or a Muslim, but is about closing the door to illegal immigrants. This should explain why Assam has turned out to be the centre of the anti-CAA protests. The Assam Accord which has a cut off base year of 1971, clearly mentions that anyone found entering Assam after 1971 will be taken as illegal immigrants, whether one is a Hindu or a Muslim and it was along this line that the recent NRC in Assam had 19 lakh people not finding a place in the NRC list. And significantly out of the 19 lakhs, a little over 5 lakh people are Hindus.
To again repeat a point which has already been noted here in earlier commentaries, the CAA negates the substance and spirit of the Assam Accord and this is one primary reason why Assam is so strongly against the Amended Citizen Act. So a law to bar landed properties being transferred to non-indigenous people and Assamese language to be made compulsory in all schools of Assam. Hard to say whether making Assamese language compulsory in schools will be amenable to schools under the CBSE and the CISCE, but this again may be a tacit acknowledgment that indeed the language of the Assamese people may be at risk if left on its own. Not admitting that the CAA can have large scale impact on the local people of Assam but yet at the same time mulling over some laws to protect the indigenous identity of the Assamese people. Only time can tell the impact of such measures, but let it be clear to the rest of the country that the anti-CAA stand in Assam and the North East is about protecting the identity of the local people. As the Prince of Tripura Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma so succinctly put it some days back, it would help if the other States in Central, Western and Southern and Northern India can open their doors to the migrants who came to India till 2014 as Tripura has already had enough. Why should a few States like Tripura and Assam be made to bear the burden of a policy which is supposed to cover the whole of India ?