ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Language Bill- Reasons for Haste.

Letter from Assam, from Volume XII, No. 42, October 15, 1960.

The Union Home Minister, Pundit Govinda Ballabh Pant, has come and gone. The Lan-guage Bill is before the State Legislature. He could not persuade the Cabinet to postpone it. He could not make his bilingual formula acceptable to the hill tribes. The Assamese-speaking people who are 55 per cent in the whole of Assam …insisted that Assamese must be made by law the official language for the whole of Assam, to the ex-clusion of the languages of all other groups and that this must be done now, i e, before the next General Election and before the Census of 1961. The Census returns of 1951 which gave them a bare majority, are disputed and their apprehension is that the Census of 1961 may not give them that majority. …The people of Goalpara who are Bengali-speaking, have through fear and inti-midation, accepted Assamese as their mother tongue…So the Assamese are keen on passing the language bill now… …The language issue, on which Pandit Pant’s guidance and advice could do little, cannot be solved by reasoning and argument. …The State Government as well as the Union Government seem to be conscious of the danger. They know that a fierce battle will be fought and all the parties are getting ready. The lan-guage bill is in the State Legislature. Since the Congress Party has the majority, it is sure to be passed…Pant’s missionhas failed and Assam now has the appearance of a regular battlefield.

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