Sunday, May 19, 2024
North East

Definition of Assamese has changed, it must include those living in Assam for years: Himanta

Himanta Biswa Sarma

Guwahati, March 2: The definition of Assamese has undergone change over the years, and it must include people who have been residing in Assam for centuries, such as Hindi speakers and the tea tribes, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday.
He said that a mass movement is needed to convince the Assamese people that the identity of the community can be preserved through “quality”.
Sarma was speaking at a programme in which rehabilitation grants were given to 936 cadres and family members of the ULFA, following provisions of the Peace Accord with the now-disbanded outfit.
“The situation in Assam is not due to some policy of the central government but due to infiltration from Bangladesh, which changed the demography of the state. When the census report comes, Assamese people will be only about 40 per cent of the population in the state,” he claimed.
Sarma said that the definition of Assamese has undergone change over the years, and it must include communities such as the tea tribes and Hindi speakers who have been living here for over a century.
“In fact, if we keep these communities or the tribal communities out of the definition of Assamese, the population will be 28-30 per cent in the state,” he maintained.
Though the percentage of Assamese people may be going down in the state, they can come together to assert their identity, Sarma said.
“A mass movement is needed so that we can convince the people that though we do not have the numbers, with quality we can keep our Assamese identity alive,” the CM said.
Praising the ULFA leadership and cadres for returning to mainstream, Sarma said they should urge those who are still pursuing armed struggle to join them.
He said the government is contemplating providing support to the families of 2,300 deceased ULFA members.
Referring to the chief of the ULFA(I) faction which has refused to come forward for peace talks, he said, “I always ask Paresh Barua to come and spend 10 days in Assam. After that, he will not want to return to Myanmar or China.”
“Whenever I spoke to him on phone, I tell him that there has been so much change in the Assam of 1980s and today’s. Independence is no longer a solution to our problems. Our focus should be to make Assam a developed state in pace with the rest of the country while also keeping intact our own identity,” Sarma said.
Sarma maintained that being “rational rather than emotional” is the need of the hour to take forward the state in the path of development.
He pointed out that the state has faced strife for various reasons and sections since Independence, be it the Naga or Mizo movements, anti-infiltration, language movement, etc.
“We have not been able to stop for five years and think of the state. In the name of a solution, we have only been creating more problems. We have seen peace and visible change in the last two-three years,” the chief minister added. (PTI)