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Biren Singh lauds Assam govt’s decision to recognise Manipuri associate official language

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Guwahati, Feb 24: Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on Saturday lauded the decision of Assam government to recognise Manipuri as an associate official language in four districts by amending the Assam Official Language Act, 1960.

“Many many thanks Himanta ji for including Manipuri as an associate official language in four districts of Assam. Your recognition and trust on the Manipuris is highly appreciated,” Biren Singh wrote on ‘X’.

The Assam government took this decision in a Cabinet meeting on Friday night.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma termed it a historic decision.

He said that the Cabinet has approved the Assam Official Language (Amendment) Bill, 2024 to recognise Manipuri language as an Associate Official Language in four districts including Cachar, Karimganj, Hailakandi and Hojai.

The Cabinet decision mentioned: “The Bill seeks to amend the Assam Official Language Act, 1960 by inserting a new Section 5B, which will provide for the recognition of Manipuri language as an Associate Official Language in the four districts.

“The decision has been taken in the interest of protecting, preserving and promoting the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Manipuri people living in Assam,” it added. According to Kamalakanta Singha, chief advisor of the All Assam Manipuri Students’ Union (AAMSU), they have been voicing this demand since 1991, and the Assam government has now acknowledged it after thirty years.

“In Hailakandi, in 1991, we first brought forward this demand. We persisted in our campaign, receiving backing from numerous other organisations. We finally have a cause to rejoice,” he remarked. Singh further said that the number of people who speak Manipuri has surpassed 2 lakh as of the 2011 census, and it is currently over 3 lakh.

“Manipuris are living in 13 districts in Assam but Cachar, Hailakandi and Hojai have the largest population,” he said.

The bulk of people in the Barak Valley region of Assam speak Bengali, and three of the four districts where Manipuri will be the official associate language are located there.

Barak Upatyaka Banga Sahitya O Sanskriti Sammelan, the largest language organisation in the Barak Valley, has expressed gratitude to the state government for this.

They have, meanwhile, also called for Bengali to be acknowledged as an associate official language of the state.

Gautam Prasad Dutta, the organisation’s general secretary, said: “We believe in respectful co-existence and we welcome this step.” As per the 2011 census, 28 per cent people in Assam speak Bengali as their mother tongue, making it the second most spoken language in the state.

“Looking at the large chunk of population speaking Bengali in the state, we appealed to the state government to recognise Bengali as the official associate language of the state. We hope that the government will take a decision in this regard as well,” he added.

IANS

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