Guwahati: The Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research (C-NES) organized a panel discussion on ‘Assamese Sikhs in Transition’ a research project which has been prepared in collaboration with Majha House and supported by Heinrich Boll Stiftung (HBS).
The Panel which was held on 27th November 2018 at the Kanaklal Baruah auditorium of Assam state Museum, Guwahati. The spirited discussions were led by Manjit Singh, Sikih litterateur and leader from Assam, and also included presentationw by Niyati Singh, The project Coordinator and on Skype by Simran Kaur, the researcher in Punjab. Majha House is a newly formed Trust in Amritsar for creative arts, research and literature.
Sanjoy Hazarika made opening remarks and provided a background to the report on what he called “efforts to build bridges between the North East and North West”. A similar presentation was made in Amritsar on November 18 to many Sikh scholars, cultural leaders and senior leaders of the city.
Manjit Singh critiqued the report for bringing the Shillong Sikhs into the project saying that was a ‘different history’. He also had a concern about the phrase ‘Assamese Sikhs’, saying it could be the Sikhs of Assam. He gave a detailed history of the Sikhs in the state saying they were ‘Sikhs and Assamese’ not Punjabi. His remarks were met with a good response from the audience.
In the question and answer session, Hazarika outlined the rationale for including the issue of Mazhabi Sikhs in Shillong. The ensuing discussions were vigorous and saw differences emerge about the status of different Sikh groups in the state. Members of the audience included local Sikh leaders, media academics and CSOs.
Manik Boruah, Associate Programme Manager of C-NES introduced the programme while Chok Tsering of HBS explained the goals of the German foundation and its association with various projecta in the North East.
The North East Election watch, a part of National Election Watch (NEW) has been monitoring the candidates for 2009 Urban Local Body elections to be held on July 31 next, covering 70 number of town committees and municipal boards of Assam.
In these Urban Local body Elections, total 673 wards of the states will face elections where 29 constituencies are reserved for SC, 34 for SC women, 5 for ST, 5 for ST women and 212 wards for general women.
The Supreme Court of India has declared through its verdict dated March 13, 2003 that “It is essential by law to provide that a candidate seeking election shall furnish the details of all his assets (movable and immoveable) possessed by him or her, wife-husband, dependent relations, duly supported by an affidavit.
The verdict also reads that “It was suggested that inasmuch as charges were framed by a court on the basis of the material placed before it by the prosecution including the material disclosed by the charge-sheet, providing for disqualification on the ground of framing of the charge-sheet would be neither unjust nor unreasonable or arbitrary.”
It also pointed out that ‘People are generally lured to enter politics of contest elections for getting rich overnight. Before allowing people to enter public life the public has a right to know the antecedents of such persons.’
On the basis of the landmark judgment, though the State Election Commission of Assam has made declaration of Assets, Liabilities, Criminal records and Educational background mandatory for the candidates of Urban Local Body, however, the Commission did not take necessary steps to bring the information into the public domain by unloading this information into their website for easy access of the citizens.
With sheer difficulties, NEEW volunteers collected the photocopies of the affidavits of ULB election candidates of Jorhat, Golaghat and Lakhimpur districts of Assam and carried out systematic analysis of these for the voters of these constituencies.
The highlights of such information are as below:
Total 338 candidates are covered in this analysis from Jorhat, Golaghat, and Lakhimpur districts of Assam. Candidates from nine town committees and four municipal boards’ elections are covered here. Total three criminals are conte4sting in these constituencies and all are from Congress party. The age group of 31-40 is dominating the list with 113 candidates from this age group followed by 41-50 age groups with 100 candidates. Two candidates are more than 71 years of age. Eighty two percent candidates do not have PAN numbers. One hundred Lakhpaties are contesting the election from these constituencies where Ashok Kumar Malpani tops the list with more than a crore assets. Nine of these candidates have declared Zero assets.
The first Assamese dolby digital cinemascope colour film ‘Jibon Bator Lagori’, presented by Hills Motion Picture Association (HIMPA) of Karbi Anglong and directed by Timothy Das Hanse is proposed to be released in 25 nos. of Cinema Hall through out Assam on 2nd October, 2009 ( Gandhi Jayanti) , to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Assamese Cinema.
The story of the ‘Jibon Bator Lagori’ (Live Alone) is set to backdrop of rural Assam, which is rich in traditional culture and human values.
Several artists including Nipon Goswami, Bishnu Kharghoria, Arun Nath, Malaya Goswami, Beauty Baruah, Hiranya Deka, Atul Pasani, Kopil Bora, Parineeta, Suchandra Chandra etc. casted this film.
This film was shown during the Assam Day 2009 celebration on 29th August, 2009 in the auditorium of Brooklands Hotel, Barnsley, UK, under the auspices of ‘United Assam Association of the UK’ (UAAUK). According to Dr. Nripen Barkataki, General Secretary, UAAUK, “it was pleasant surprise for the non resident Assamese people to watch a nice movie with a good theme. The cast, acting and photography were of high standard. The audience enjoyed the movie and appreciated the message given to the younger generation”.