The Assam government has decided to provide minority certificates to these communities in a cabinet meeting held on Sunday last. Assam’s minorities Development Board has sent the proposal to the government.
Assam health minister and government spokesperson Keshab Mahanta had said, “The cabinet meeting has decided that there is scheduled caste certificate and likewise there is scheduled caste certificate or other backward caste certificate however there is no certificate for minorities.”
He added, “By minorities a community is generally identified. We have decided to give the certificate so that these people can benefit from the schemes meant for the minorities initiated by the minorities welfare department.” The minister said that detailed modalities will be worked out soon.
Leader of opposition in the state assembly, Debabrata Saikia said, “I do not understand why the Assam government is proposing to issue identity cards to minorities. Already these communities have been given certain rights and benefits under the Indian constitution. There is no report of members of one religious minority community infringing the rights of another religious minority community.”
He added, “It is a ploy of the ruling party to divide Assamese people. It seems there is a political motive behind this decision”.
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is advocating that the definition of the minority must change district wise.
In March this year while speaking in the state assembly said, “Minority definition must change district by district depending upon the geography, population and threat perception.”
Stating that there is no definition of minority in the constitution, he stated Article 29 and 30 has spoken about minority communities, rights and privileges and linguistic minorities. “There is no definition as to who are linguistic minorities. How many people need to speak a language to make the same a minority or majority language. From the Supreme court judgments, it is inferred that states are the unit of determining linguistic minority for states that were reorganised on the basis of language.”
He said, “In Assam’s
Manipuri, Rengma Naga are minorities. In Brahmaputra valley Bengali speaking people are a linguistic minority however this may not be the case in Dhubri.”
The chief minister said Muslims, Christians Sikh, Parsi and Jains are traditionally considered as minorities. “In South Salmara Hindus are a minority. This whole thing is evolving. There are people in the tea garden that despite having other backward castes (OBC)status are claiming themselves as minority for being Christian and are also demanding scheduled tribe status.”
He added, “There are people who are taking minority scholarships despite being an OBC.”