Controversy ensued when Senior Supreme Court advocate Kapil Sibal, during arguments against petitions challenging Section 6A of the Citizenship Act on Thursday (December 7), asserted that Assam was originally part of Myanmar.
The statement, made before a five-judge constitution bench hearing challenges to the constitutional validity of Section 6A, has sparked a debate. This section provides a distinct cut-off date for immigrants in Assam, allowing those who entered on or before March 25, 1971, to be granted Indian citizenship, in contrast to the national cut-off date of July 19, 1949.
He said, “Assam was a part of Myanmar and then British conquered a part of it and that is how Assam was handed over to the British and you can now imagine the amount of movement of people that took place and under partition, East Bengal and Assam became one and Bengali language was being taught in schools where there was large scale opposition. The interaction and absorption of Bengali population in Assam has a historical context.”
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma criticized Kapil Sibal’s comments, stating that if he lacks knowledge of Buranji (history), he should refrain from commenting on it.
“Those who do not have any knowledge of history should not speak some things. Assam was never a part of Myanmar, during Ahom regime people of Myanmar had a clash with Assam, and Assam was occupied by Myanmar for around one to one and a half month. I have not seen data showing that Assam was part of Myanmar at any time,” Assam CM said on Friday.
Assam Minister Pijush Hazarika remarked that Kapil Sibal has received inadequate briefing, in response to the statements made in the Supreme Court. Hazarika noted that Sibal presented a “left liberal view that tends to alienate the North East by conjuring such theories.”
This wasn’t the sole controversial statement from the former Congress leader in court. During his submission, he asserted that people have a fundamental right to move from one country to another. Chief Justice of India, D Y Chandrachud, countered him, stating that it is incorrect, and no such fundamental right exists. CJI Chandrachud clarified that the right is to move within the country, not across countries, and emphasized that this right is not applicable to non-Indians.