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Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma to plead in SC for district-wise minority status

Guwahati: Minority status of a community should be decided district-wise, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said. “Minority definition must change district by district depending upon the geography, population and threat perception,” Sarma said in the state assembly on Wednesday.

“I have discussed with home minister Amit Shah and am planning to file an affidavit in the Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay case in the Supreme Court pertaining to our stand of district level minority. However, what we could do would depend upon the Supreme Court,” he said.

The Centre had in a recent affidavit in the Supreme Court said states could decide if Hindus should be treated as minorities, depending on the percentage of population. Sarma has now contended that it should be district specific. However, it is not clear in either case if a domicile clause would be introduced to protect misuse of the status bestowed to population of a specific area by same community members from other areas. Assam has seen several rounds of migration from neighbouring areas throughout several decades. It also has huge Muslim population in South Salmara, Dhubri, Barpeta, Darrang, Hailakandi, Goalpara, Karimganj, Nagaon, Hojai, Morigaon and Bongaigaon districts. Sarma’s comments gain significance in this context.

Sarma claimed that there was ‘no definition of minority’ in the Constitution. Article 29 and 30 have spoken about minority communities, rights and privileges and linguistic minorities. “There is no definition as to who make linguistic minorities. How many people need to speak a language to make them minority or majority. From Supreme Court judgments it is inferred that states are the unit of determining linguistic minority as states were reorganised on the basis of language,” Sarma said.

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