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Law to protect indigenous people a must: U Hazarika

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, July 2 - Stressing that the NRC update alone cannot prevent the indigenous people from being reduced to a minority in Assam, former Supreme Court Commissioner Upamanyu Hazarika today asked the State government to bring in a legislation for protecting the land and safeguarding the indigenous people during the coming Assembly session.

Cautioning the present State government against complacency on the issue, he said that if the illegal migrants continue to enjoy the hospitality in the form of government schemes, like IAY, free education and healthcare facilities, etc., nothing can stop them from invading deeper.

�The present State government has come to power on the promise of securing the identity of indigenous people and it cannot sit idle on this issue. The first Assembly session of the new government must deal with this issue as top priority,� he said addressing the media here.

Prabrajan Birodhi Manch, an organisation working at the grassroots level against illegal infiltration, has alleged that in two areas � Mayong and Sipajhar � a large number of Bangladeshis are enjoying the benefits of government schemes. Despite the eviction notice in 1994 to the settlers in 77,420 bighas of land in Sipajhar, 32 government schools, three health centres, toilets under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan have been given and the government is now proceeding with electrification of the 1,500 houses under the IAY scheme.

�In Mayong also, the overnight settlers, who are now growing in numbers, enjoy several government amenities, including solar lights, not available to even the locals,� said Hazarika, also the convener of the Manch.

Citing reference to three different studies predicting the indigenous being reduced to a minority in Assam from the year 2040 to 2060, the latest one being from an organisation called �India Facts�, he said that the elected representatives must be reminded that they have been voted to power to protect indigenous identity and not just to update the NRC.

Keeping protective cover to the indigenous above other issues while dealing with infiltration, he said that the even the Hindu migrants from Bangladesh should not be given political rights or land rights in Assam or the Northeast.

�Unless the NE is transformed into a barren field for illegal migrants, the issue cannot be sorted out effectively,� he added.

The demands of the Manch include: no citizenship by birth to the post-1971 migrants, implementation of the Assam Accord by identifying citizens, clearing the land encroachment and legislation for reserving land, government jobs and benefits only for those who were citizens in 1951 and their progeny.

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