GUWAHATI: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma informed the state assembly on Monday that the Karbi language will be included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India, once it adopts the Roman script.
Karbi is a member of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Its writing system is based on the Roman script, and the earliest written texts in Karbi were produced by Christian missionaries, especially the American Baptist Mission and the Catholic Church.
The inclusion of the Karbi language in the Eighth Schedule was a clause of the Karbi Peace Accord signed with six extremist groups on September 4, 2021.
“The Roman script is not an Indian script, and no language with a Roman script can be included in the Eighth Schedule,” Sarma said in response to a starred question from BJP MLA Bidyasing Engleng from Diphu on the first day of the autumn session of the Assam Assembly on Monday.
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“We had a long discussion with the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) on this issue. We urged them to take a quick decision,” he added.
“The chief executive member (CEM) of KAAC informed me that there is no consensus on the issue to date. Once they reach a consensus, the Karbi language may be included in the Eighth Schedule and will also be recognized as an associate language of the state,” Sarma said.
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Regarding the implementation of the Third Bodo Peace Accord signed with the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU), the United Bodo People’s Organization (UBPO), and four factions of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB), the chief minister said that 90% of the clauses of the accord have already been implemented.
“There is also a proposal to expand the BTR (Bodoland Territorial Region) up to Gohpur. Talks are ongoing. Once there is a consensus, we will announce it soon,” he said.
The chief minister said that the implementation of the BTR Accord is satisfactory and that there are no obstacles to its implementation.
The memorandum of settlement (MoS) signed with six Karbi rebel groups in 2021 has also improved the socio-economic conditions of Karbi Anglong.
There is also a proposal to set up a Karbi Welfare Council for Karbis living in the plain districts of the state.
“However, we have not yet reached a consensus on the modalities of this council as there is an existing Amri Karbi Council. Karbi leaders need to clarify the proposed structure of the Karbi Welfare Council. We will set up the council within a month once they finalize the structure of the proposed council,” Sarma said.
In addition, Karbis living in the plain districts of Assam have been demanding Scheduled Tribe (Plains) status, while Bodos living in Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao have been demanding Scheduled Tribe (Hills) status.
“Both of these issues are addressed in the Karbi Peace Accord and the Bodo Peace Accord. However, the Karbis are opposed to granting ST(H) status to the Bodos, while the Bodos are opposed to granting ST(P) status to the Karbis. This issue can be resolved through dialogue. Talks are also ongoing at the central level. Both communities must reach a consensus on this issue,” he added.
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