The Linguistic Minority Development Board of Assam has proposed a scheme of providing one-time financial assistance up to Rs 40,000 to Bengali Hindu brides and grooms in Assam for marrying into Assamese Hindu families with the aim of strengthening the bond between the two communities.
According to the Board chairman Alok Kumar Ghose, couples who opt for inter-community marriages are often ostracized by their respective communities and are dispossessed of property rights. He stated that his board aims to help such couples in setting up shops, beauty salons and in farming. Ghose informed that the proposal was submitted to the state government a couple of days ago adding that a website is currently being designed for Bengali-Assamese Hindu couples to register their details online.
Furthermore, Ghose believes that this initiative will foster amity between the communities and strengthen the social fabric of the state. However, the All Assam Minority Students’ Union expressed its disapproval of the scheme, calling the proposal ‘divisive’ and accused the board of attempting religious polarisation.
“The government is vigorously indulging in promoting divisions between Hindus and Muslims. The board’s proposal is yet another specimen of this. Instead of designing the proposal along religious lines, the board could have extended help to any financially unstable Bengali person marrying into any religion or community,” said Rejaul Karim Sarkar, president of the student union.
While the All Assam Bengali Youth Students’ Federation welcomed the proposal floated by the Linguistic Board. President Samrat Bhowal asserted that his organisation would support any initiative to dispel distrust between the Bengalis and Assamese. “There have been some incidents of late that have fed apprehensions between the two communities. This scheme of providing cash incentive is a timely intervention and we welcome it,” he said.