As violence rocked Assam, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Thursday appealed to protesters for maintaining peace and said that he was open to dialogue with the leaders of the agitation.
“Peaceful and democratic protest is an integral part of a democratic society but when somebody resorts to violence, it is in no way helpful. Hence my sensible appeal to the people involved in the protests is to maintain peace and tranquility in the state. It is highly essential to ensure protection of life and property,” Sonowal said during an interaction with journalists at his official residence in Guwahati.
“I am ready to have a dialogue with the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and other organisations. We are always open from our side. Through discussion any confusion can be solved,” he said.
The BJP leader said that “misinformation” about CAB has aggravated the situation. “Real facts are not disclosed. People are just quoting whatever number they want — 10 million or 15 million. But that is not true. I appeal to the leaders of the protest to please stick to the principles of non-violence and we can work together,” Sonowal said.
The Chief Minister said that the government will soon implement provisions of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord to protect the interests of the indigenous people of Assam. “The Prime Minister and Home Minister have both categorically stated that to protect the interests of the indigenous people of Assam, the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord will be implemented in letter and spirit,” he said.
According to Clause 6, “constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people”.
“A committee of the highest level is preparing its report which will recommend the suggestions for implementation of Clause 6 and how the constitutional safeguards — including that of political, cultural, linguistic and also land rights of the indigenous people of Assam — can be guaranteed,” Sonowal said.
The Chief Minister said the committee has been told to submit its report as soon as possible and “the government will take it up immediately after it is submitted”.
“People of Assam are expressing their resentment but need not worry since this is for the first time that constitutional safeguards will be given to people. Although it was agreed upon in the Assam Accord in 1985, no Prime Minister has addressed it. Only Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken it up now,” Sonowal said.