Guwahati: Assam takes a historic stride towards cultural preservation and social reform, announcing plans to implement a state-specific Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma unveils a strategic blend of Uttarakhand’s UCC, tailored to address Assam’s unique challenges. Additionally, a protective bill for Majuli, Batadrava, and Barpeta aims to safeguard cultural treasures of the state.
Assam is set to become the third state in India to implement a Uniform Civil Code (UCC), as announced by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in a press conference held today in Dispur. Following the footsteps of Gujarat and Uttarakhand, Assam’s UCC will be tailored to the unique needs of the state.
In a significant departure from the Uttarakhand UCC bill, Assam’s version will address issues such as child marriage and polygamy. CM Sarma emphasised that the government is actively working to combat child marriage and is in the process of introducing a bill to ban polygamy in the state. However, he assured that the tribal community in Assam will be exempted from the UCC.
“We are committed to adopting the best practices from the Uttarakhand UCC bill while ensuring that it aligns with Assam’s specific social and cultural context,” stated CM Sarma during the press conference. The government is awaiting the Uttarakhand UCC bill to analyse its provisions. If minimal changes are required, the implementation process will commence shortly; otherwise, public consultation and legal procedures may extend the timeline.
In a move to protect the cultural and spiritual heritage of Assam, CM Sarma revealed plans to introduce a bill during the upcoming budget session. This legislation aims to designate the river island of Majuli, the birthplace of Sankardev Batadrava, and the Barpeta Satra area as protected belts, similar to tribal belts. Once enacted, this bill will prohibit non-residents from buying or selling land in these areas.
The decision to safeguard Majuli holds particular significance due to its status as the world’s largest river island and a key center of Vaishnavite culture. Over the years, Majuli has faced conversion attempts by Christian missionaries, leading to the construction of more than 65 churches and the conversion of thousands of tribal inhabitants.
Similarly, Batadrava, the birthplace of Guru Sankardev, has witnessed persistent land encroachment by Bangladesh-origin Muslims. The ‘Batadrava Than,’ established by Sankardev, has been surrounded by migrant Muslims, resulting in the forced sale of land by indigenous people. Barpeta Satra, too, faces challenges with hundreds of acres of its land being encroached upon by Bangladesh-origin Muslims.
In response to these threats, the Assam government has initiated eviction drives, but CM Sarma acknowledged that more measures are needed. The proposed bill aims to bring stability to these sacred places, ensuring their preservation for future generations.
CM Sarma affirmed that the bill to ban polygamy would be tabled in the upcoming budget session, commencing on February 5. The government remains dedicated to fostering a harmonious society that respects cultural diversity while addressing pressing social issues.