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News18 » India
1-min read

Cong Asks Definition of ‘Indigenous’ After Assam Govt Decides to Provide Settlements to Landless Families

BJP spokesperson Mominul Awal clarified saying that people from areas 'where there has been no illegal infiltration' would be availing land pattas.

Karishma Hasnat | CNN-News18

Updated:January 3, 2020, 11:46 PM IST
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File photo of Assam CM and BJP leader Sarbananda Sonowal.

The Congress has asked the state government to define the term “indigenous” since the Sarbananda Sonowal government in Assam has decided to provide land pattas to more than 40,000 landless indigenous people on January 28.

“What will be the definition of ‘indigenous’ – because various people had come to Assam at various times. Muslims entered Assam from 12th century AD, the Ahoms came in 1226, the Bodo, Mishing and Miri among other tribes have been living here since ages, the tea-tribes came in 1850, and since 1905 - people from East Bengal have entered Assam. So, who among these will be identified as ‘indigenous’?” asked Assam Congress Legislature Party leader Debabrata Saikia.

“The Gauhati High Court had recently ordered the eviction of all non-tribal people from protected tribal belts in the state. The tribal status was declared around 1948-1950, and if anyone bought land in these areas, they constituted the ‘protected class’ - will they now be uprooted from their lands? There are 83,000 people from ‘protected classes’ (tribals) and about 17,000 from non-protected classes (non-tribals),” added Saikia, stating that the government has failed to take a convincing stand on the issue.

BJP spokesperson Mominul Awal told News 18 that people from areas “where there has been no illegal infiltration” would be able to avail the land pattas.

“The land pattas would be given to the Assamese people or tribals, mainly from Upper and Middle Assam, and the Sixth Schedule areas –where we believe, there has been no infiltration,” he said.

On the other hand, All Assam Students’ Union general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said that the government needs to be more specific, and the approach should not be ‘election-centric’.

“Who all will get land patta? Be it the son of the soil, or the Scheduled Tribes – they all have land issues. The government has to be more specific, ‘indigenous’ has to be well defined. It should not be an election-centric move,” he said.

The chief minister directed the Revenue and Disaster Management Department to take appropriate steps to distribute land pattas to other beneficiaries in subsequent phases so that “the state government's commitment to provide land pattas to one lakh landless indigenous people could be achieved”.

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