Hindu Bengalis not a threat to Assamese: Himanta Biswas Sarma

Guwahati: In what is said to be BJP’s stand on CAA, Assam finance minister Himanta Biswas Sarma said it neither violates nor dilutes the Assam Accord, but is aimed at resolving one of the many “unresolved issues” which were not addressed when it was signed.

Sarma also claimed that if the previous census data is any indicator, the Hindu Bengali population was not a threat to the Assamese language.

Speaking on behalf of the ruling party in the Assembly, Sarma said that there were many wrong notions regarding 1971 as the cut-off date while in reality, Clause 5 of the Assam Accord mentions that “all persons who came to Assam prior to January 1, 1966, including those amongst them whose name appeared on the electoral rolls used in 1967 elections, shall be regularised” and that “for purposes of detection and deletion of foreigners, January 1, 1966 shall be the base date and year”.

Stating that the Assam Accord was not an all-encompassing document, and even the NRC update was not part of the Assam Accord, Sarma said, “The idea of updating the NRC evolved as a concept post-Assam Accord. It was one of the unresolved issues of the Assam Accord.”

He said the accord was silent on issues like status of children of the post-1971 illegal immigrants. Similarly, the Accord spoke about giving considerations to the difficulties regarding the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, 1983, not about repealing or scrapping of that legislation, he said. He said the Assam Accord failed to resolve the issue of differentiating between economic migrants and those who have entered the country on account of religious persecution.

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