The Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said that the state government’s announcement to issue minority certificates to six communities will help them in availing centrally funded schemes and scholarships. The Assam government on Sunday announced to issue ”minority certificates” to six religious communities — Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Paris and Sikhs. The decision was taken during a cabinet meeting held under the chairmanship of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
”Earlier after the hearing the minority word, we thought of only Muslims. But now as per the central government, minority means — Muslims, Jain, Christian, Buddhists, Jains, Persians and Sikhs. With the help of minority certificates, these communities can easily avail of central funded schemes and also the scholarship,” he said while speaking to media on Monday. On Sunday, Assam Health & Family Welfare Minister, Keshab Mahanta while interacting with media persons had apprised that the certificate would help in ”identification”.
”We have numerous schemes for minorities and we also have a separate department for minorities. But who are the minorities? There is no identification. We need to identify them so that such schemes reach them,” he added. So, after Mahant’s statement, it has been now cleared that the certificates would also help the state government to identify minorities and it also will make it easier for the government to give benefits of several schemes to the minority people.
Speaking on the same line, Habib Mohammad Chowdhury, the Chairman of the Minorities Development Board, asserted that the move would ”benefit” the minorities in Assam, especially in availing government schemes. “This has been our longstanding demand. Often, without a certificate, we face issues when it comes to government schemes, and even scholarships or exams,” Indian Express quoted him as saying.
“Students are unable to prove their minority status and cannot avail the schemes. A lot of times, following their request, we issue official letters as proof from the [minorities] board but in many cases, they are not accepted,” he added.
Meanwhile, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) has politicised the decision by calling it a “divide and rule policy.” Slamming the Assam government over the announcement of the minority certificate, AIUDF general secretary Aminul Islam said that Constitution already gives Minority status to these groups. ”The move is not necessary. BJP government in Assam is trying to divide the state. Earlier they divided in the name of religion, now they are trying to divide into subcastes,” Aminul Islam added.