Won't oppose Barak Valley's separation from Assam if people want so: CM H Biswa Sarma

Update: 2023-09-08 11:58 GMT

Guwahati: In what has triggered a fresh controversy Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said that he would not oppose separation of Bengali-majority Barak Valley’s separation from Assam if the region’s people demand so even though he does not want that to happen.

Mr Sarma who was in Barrak valley to lay the foundation stone of various infrastructure projects worth Rs 136 crore in Cachar district said, “If the people of Barak Valley want a separate Barak land, we will not oppose. Why should we oppose it? That is a decision to be taken in the Barak Valley. We cannot say anything.”

He however clarified, “I as a chief minister want to live together. If somebody wants to live separately, then first he has to take consent from the people of the valley.”

The chief minister told reporters if the people of the valley collectively demand a separate Barak land, the government will discuss the matter. “If the people of Barak Valley want to be separated, we will not get in the way. That is not our job...," Mr Sarma said.

The demand for the separation of Barak Valley comprising 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.

Mr Sarma however said that 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,” said Mr Sarma. He added that the region’s people should ignore demands of separation.

He said, “Some people always tell me that a particular group only talks about the separation of Barak Valley 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.”

It is significant that 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.


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