“Assamese People” definition rocks Assembly

The issue of determining the definition of the “Assamese People” triggered an uproarious scene in the Assam Assembly on the last day of the ongoing budget session with the ruling Congress and the Opposition All-India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) members raising objection to Speaker Pranab Kumar Gogoi recording his recommendation to the State government on the definition in the records of the House proceedings. They raised objection on the ground that the Speaker had not consulted the legislators and political parties to firm up the definition of the “Assamese People”.

The Speaker recommended, after consultations with 53 different organisations, that the year 1951 be taken as the cut off period and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), 1951, be taken as the basis for the definition of the “Assamese People” for the purpose of reservation of seats and constitutional safeguards as required by the Assam Accord.

This definition is required to implement the Clause six of the Assam Accord which promises that “constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social and linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese People.”

The members of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), however, backed the Speaker’s definition of “Assamese People” and insisted that the Speaker’s recommendation be treated as a recommendation of the House.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rockybul Hussain, while making a statement on behalf of the State government, said that any hasty conclusion at this stage might jeopardise the work of updating the NRC, 1951, which has already begun. He expressed apprehension that those opposed to updating might use it as a weapon to sabotage the work.

The Speaker in his two-page report, which he read out, stated that 1951 Census Report defined indigenous people of Assam thus: “Indigenous person of Assam means a person belonging to the State of Assam and speaking the Assamese language or any tribal dialect of Assam, or in the case of Cachar the language of the region.”

He also pointed out that late Chief Minister Bimala Prasad Chaliha in his official message to enumerators stated that the NRC would be compiled on the basis of 1951 Census report.

Top Aasu leaders to step down from posts today

Guwahati: Top leaders of the All Assam Students' Union (Aasu), which has been the leading students' body of the state for the last 10 years, will step down from their posts during the four-day 16th Dudhnoi convention. The convention will be held in Goalpara district from Monday.

Aasu adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya said on Sunday that he would part ways with the students' body with which he has been associated since the days of the Assam agitation (1979 to 85). He has served Aasu as its general secretary and adviser for more than three decades.

Aasu president Sankar Prasad Ray and general secretary Tapan Kumar Gogoi will also quit from the students' body during the Dudhnoi convention, paving the way for the next generation.

"I will leave Aasu, through which I have served Assam over the years. But I will continue working for the good of the state," said Bhattacharyya. He added that he had no plans of joining any political party or of contesting elections.

The Aasu leadership denied rumours of joining BJP in the presence of party president Amit Shah, who will visit the state in April. Bhattacharyya hit out at state BJP president Siddhartha Bhattacharya who recently said that several Aasu leaders were in touch with the saffron party.

The Dudhnoi convention will see participation of leaders from different ethnic and tribal organizations of the state as well as academics to chalk out the future roadmap of the students' body in solving the burning issues of the state.

The Aasu adviser said a 'secure Assam' will the theme on which representatives of the organizations will deliberate to find ways for protecting the state from illegal influx, securing the future of students, making them employable and safeguarding the interests of students of vernacular medium schools.

2 die of Swine flu in Assam

Two more persons succumbed to swine flu and 10 new cases of those infected with the H1N1 virus surfaced in Assam, officials said on Sunday.

Assam Health and Family Welfare Minister Nazrul Islam said four persons have been detected with swine flu in Jorhat and Dibrugarh each, three in Guwahati and one in Tezpur.

The death toll due to the virus has reached four, with two deaths occurring in Jorhat district. “Of the 12 persons, seven had history of travel and five are affected locally,” he added.

He said the Assam government has prepared isolation wards in every district hospital across the State.

Islam said the government will soon start vaccination drive across the State for Japanese encephalitis.

Assam youth beaten up in Delhi, hospitalised

A 21-year-old student from Assam was allegedly beaten up by some residents of South Delhi’s Amar Colony, police said on Monday.

According to police, the student was identified as Arbazuddin Ahmed. He was trying to break the lock of someone else’s house, mistaking it to be his own, apparently in an inebriated state.

Police said the youth hails from Guwahati, Assam and was living in Delhi for the last two years. He has suffered fractures in his limbs and jaw in the attack.

“The incident took place on March 5 when Arbazuddin came back home and tried to open the lock of a house which was not his. When the key didn’t work, he tried to break the door and get in,” a senior police official said.

“Meanwhile, hearing the sounds, the owner of the house and neighbours woke up. Thinking that he was a thief, they thrashed him,” he said.

Following a call from the locals around 1.30 am that they had caught a thief, a police team was rushed to the spot and took him to the hospital.

“His address was found to be in the same locality. Both the houses were on the first floor and the youth probably went into the wrong house apparently in an inebriated condition,” police said.

Rape incidents on the rise in Assam

Guwahati: Official records of the Assam Police reveal that more than 10,000 girls and women have been raped in the state since 2010. Such crimes have been escalating over the years.

The records said that at least 1,721 rape cases had been registered in various police stations in 2010 followed by 2,011 cases in 2011.

"Though there was a slight fall in 2012 with some 1,716 rape cases registered, but it shot up in 2013 with 1,937 such incidents," the records said.

At least 2,780 cases were registered last year with an average seven women being raped in Assam daily.

This year too, such incidents are happening with regularity. On Saturday, three persons were sent to police custody on charges of gangraping a 17-year-old.

"The girl's family lodged an FIR complaining that Debojit Bora, Dhanjit Saikia and Sukumar Kalita had raped her. They were all staying at a rented house at Rajgharh area here," a policeman said.

Besides incidents of rape, women in the state face molestation on a daily basis. The police records too stated that at least 11,306 cases of molestation were registered in various police stations in Assam since 2010. "There were 1,611 molestation cases recorded in 2010. In the following year, it came down to 1,446 but went up to 1,840 in 2012. In 2013, at least 2,409 such cases were registered in the state. Last year, it had gone up to some 4,000," the records stated.