Amid the ongoing protests in Assam against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the BJP-led government in the state on Saturday reiterated its commitment to protecting the land rights and language of ethnic Assamese.
Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that new legislation will be introduced by the state government to ensure “land of the indigenous people remain with the indigenous population”.
“It has been noticed in Barpeta and Dhubri districts that the indigenous people of Assam are abandoning their land while moving to others places due to economical or other reasons. The new bill would ensure that indigenous people sell land only to indigenous people of Assam,” said Sarma after a state Cabinet meeting. He added that the Cabinet has discussed the modalities for the new legislation and a bill in this regard will be brought in the next session of Assam Legislative Assembly.
Sarma, however, noted that the recommendations of Clause 6 implementation committee on the definition of "indigenous" is awaited but he added that if the committee fails to submit its report on time then it is likely that the state government would define the term in its own way and implement the law.
The senior BJP leader also noted that the Assam government will urge the Union government to amend Article 345 of the Constitution, and declare Assamese as the state language. Sarma, however, remarked that the amendment will exclude Barak Valley, Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD), and the Hill districts.
"State government has requested Govt of India to suitably amend Article 345 of Constitution of India to make Assamese as state language, however in Barak Valley, Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) area and hill districts this may not be applicable," Sarma said.
Assam has witnessed massive protests against the amended Citizenship Act with the protesters demanding that the Centre must recall the legislation.