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Delimitation of Assam to Result in ‘Alienation’ of Tribes?

Guwahati, February 23, 2020:

The Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC), despite being a rollercoaster ride for the state, has been completed amid toil and turmoil and with it, the delimitation exercise has come to the forefront. However, this comes amid murmurs that the process could be detrimental to the tribal communities residing in the State.

According to latest reports, the delimitation of assembly seats and readjustment of boundaries of the parliamentary constituencies is likely to begin soon.

A gazette notification regarding Assam’s delimitation is expected to be out soon and accordingly, the Delimitation Commission will publish its draft proposals.

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A time frame will also be given to the people and stakeholders to furnish their objections and suggestions. Subsequently, public sittings will be conducted by the Delimitation Commission in Assam to consider the objections and suggestions received from the public.

However, it is not as simple as it seems. In February 2008, a gazette notification was issued citing that the delimitation exercise will be postponed till the NRC is updated “to reflect the true population configuration in the state.”

The Assam NRC’s final draft was published on August 31, excluding over 19 lakh of the population. While there are a number of issues to be dealt with in case of the NRC, the delimitation exercise can be declared anytime soon.

The 2008 Gazette notification stated several grievances of the public of Assam and cited those as the reasons behind the exercise’s deferment.

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According to the gazette, delimitation of Assam would result in the alienation of different tribes. “…the process of delimitation in Assam has all along evoked strong opposition from all concerned in the State, and there have been a large number of protests, picketing, bundhs, road blockades, etc. by the political and non-political organizations in the State.”
“…different political parties, student bodies like All Assam Students Union, All Bodo Students’ Union, All Koch Rajbanshi Students Union, All Assam Minority Students Union, Adibasi Students Union and various other ethnic organizations have while opposing the delimitation process, launched as many as 113 agitational programmes,” read the Gazette.

The notification issued in February 2008 cited that the issues in regard to delimitation of constituencies in the State of Assam are “very serious and sensitive in nature and may give rise to break down of public order on account of serious law and order situations in different districts and more, particularly, in the areas which are disturbed areas or very sensitive areas.”

The Government of India, through the Gazette, also expressed that the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), which has now laid down arms, would attempt to exploit the sentiments of the people and thereby intervene the delimitation exercise.

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