Assam: The Assam Cabinet on Sunday decided to provide Minority Certificates to people of six religious minority communities. These include Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Parsis.
In March, while speaking in the state assembly, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “Minority definition must change district by district depending upon the geography, population and threat perception. 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 reorganized based on language.”
“In Assam’s Barak valley Manipuri, Rengma Naga are minorities. In Brahmaputra valley, Bengali-speaking people are a linguistic minority however this may not be the case in Dhubri. In the 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 a minority for being Christian and are also demanding scheduled tribe status,” he added.
Assam Health & Family Welfare Minister while interacting with the media said “We have several schemes for minorities, we have a separate department for minorities… But who are the minorities? There is no identification. We need to identify them so that such schemes reach them,” Mahanta said, adding that the request for certificates came from the Assam Minorities Development Board.
“The move would “benefit” the minorities of Assam, especially in availing government schemes. “This has been our longstanding demand. Often, without a certificate, we face issues when it comes to government schemes, and even scholarships or exams,” he said. “Students are unable to prove their minority status and cannot avail the schemes. A lot of times, following their request, we issue official letters as proof from the [minorities] board but in many cases, they are not accepted,”.Habib Mohammad Chowdhury, the Chairman of the Minorities Development Board.
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