NEW DELHI: Amidst recent debate surrounding the definition of an ‘Assamese’, the All Assam Students’ Union(AASU) along with a group of 26 other ethnic bodies met the Assembly Speaker, Pranab Gogoi and notified him about their consensus on those who should be provided constitutional safeguards and seat reservations in local bodies, the State Assembly and the Parliament.

Considering the prevalent process of assimilation and keeping in mind India’s independence, all those people who have their names in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) prepared on the basis of the first census of independent India in 1951, regardless of which caste, community, religion, language or tribes they belong to are indigenous Assamese and should be provided constitutional safeguards and 100% seat reservation as per the clause 6 of the Assam Accord, the delegation told Gogoi on March 21.

Clause 6 of the Assam Accord signed in 1985 makes it absolutely necessary to define who is an Assamese ,for, constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards are to be provided to only to the Assamese people.

The Speaker assured the delegation that the issue would be comprehensively discussed including the points raised by them in a meeting to be held on March 29, in the ongoing budget session of the Assembly.

Meanwhile, the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) also raised the issue and emphasised that instead of confusing the people about the definition of a “Assamese”, the government should start providing constitutional safeguards should to thee indigenous communities as defined by the United Nations.

"The fresh debate about who is an 'Assamese' is a ploy by the Assam government to create confusion among different indigenous communities for political purpose. 'Assamese' is a greater community comprising different ethnic groups and is the outcome of continuous convergence of socio-political and cultural life. Defining an 'Assamese' by a law or a timeframe cannot be the right way. The most important issue is constitutional safeguards for the indigenous groups as defined by the UN. Instead of doing that, our government is trying to confuse different ethnic groups," AJYCP president Manoj Baruah told the media in Guwahati on Saturday.

Baruah stated that the UN has clearly defined "indigenous community" as those having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial society that developed in their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the society now prevailing in those territories or parts of them.

He added “Definition of an indigenous people cannot be decided by any individual or an organisation on their own. It is an internationally-accepted definition”.

The Tarun Gogoi government recently informed the Assam Assembly that the government has been unable to finalise the definition of an “Assamese” yet and as a result, can’t implement the clause 6 of the Assam, Accord which provides constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards for the Assamese people. This led to a fresh debate over the question- who is an Assamese.