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Won’t oppose Barak Valley’s separation from Assam if people want so: Sarma

ByBiswa Kalyan Purkayastha
Sep 08, 2023 09:46 AM IST

The demand for the separation of Barak Valley encompassing districts of Cachar, Karimganj, and Haliakandi dates back to the 1960s

Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said he would not oppose Bengali-majority Barak Valley’s separation from Assam if the region’s people demand so even though he does not want that to happen.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at a public meeting on Thursday. (ANI)
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at a public meeting on Thursday. (ANI)

“If people want separate Barak Land why would we oppose? But the people have to take the decision collectively and not some Leftists,” he said during his visit to Barak Valley on Thursday. He underlined the need for consent from every citizen of the area for the separation.

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The demand for the separation of Barak Valley encompassing districts of Cachar, Karimganj, and Haliakandi dates back to the 1960s. It was renewed this year following the reduction of the region’s assembly seats to 13 from 15 in the 126-member Assam assembly.

The Election Commission of India finalised the delimitation process for Assam’s assembly and 14 Lok Sabha seats in July. The move triggered protests. The Opposition Congress, Trinamool Congress, Left parties, and some ruling Bharatiya Janata Party leaders opposed the reduction of seats. A 12-hour bandh was observed over it in Barak Valley.

Eleven people died in police firing during a protest in Barak Valley’s Silchar in 1960 when the Congress-led state government sought to declare Assamese the state’s sole official language. The opposition to the move prompted the Union government’s intervention and forced Assam to withdraw the decision.

In 1971, a committee was formed to press for the demand of a Union Territory status for Barak Valley named Purbachal.

Nagaland was carved out of Assam in 1963, followed by Meghalaya, Tripura, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh in the 1970s.

Sarma claimed the region’s people were extremely happy with the delimitation. “I have been receiving messages on WhatsApp from people and they wanted me to visit. People are extremely happy with delimitation and our party will win at least 10 out of 13 seats in the next assembly election,” Sarma said. He added the region’s people should ignore demands of separation.

“Some people always tell me that a particular group only talks about the separation of Barak but most of the people here believe in living together. As chief minister of Assam, I do not want separation either. We all are brothers and sisters. We should stay together.”

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