Successive governments in Assam since 1985 have failed to implement the Clause 6 of Assam Accord, which is considered of prime importance among all the clauses of the accord in the interest of sons of the soil in the state. In view of the growing resentment and sense of insecurity among the indigenous communities in Assam because of amendment to the Citizenship Act as carried out by the incumbent BJP government in the Centre, a high-powered committee was constituted by the Ministry of Home Affairs on July 15, 2019 to suggest measures and recommendations for implementation of Clause 6 of Assam Accord which is linked to safeguard and preservation, promotion of identity and heritage of indigenous communities of the state especially those from Brahmaputra Valley.
The 14-member committee, headed by Justice Biplab Kumar Sharma, a former judge of Gauhati High Court, submitted its report to Assam government in February this year for forwarding the same to the Centre. However, the report of the expert committee is yet to reach the Central government as has been informed by Union minister of state for home, G. Kishan Reddy in a written reply to a question in the Parliament today (September 16) much to the chagrin of various organisations which have been rooting for implementation of this Clause 6 in toto immediately in the wake of amendment carried out to the Citizenship Act.
The Union Minister informed the Parliament that the high-level committee constituted by the ministry of home affairs on Clause 6 of Assam Accord has submitted its report to the government of Assam and its recommendations are under examination of the state government
Earlier, peeved at the silence of the Assam government on the contents of the expert committee report and its implementation, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) who was also represented in the committee, had on August 11, 2020, broken the “confidentiality” of the report and made it public. The ASSU was apprehending that the State government was yet to hand over the report to the Centre. The apprehension has now turned real.
The answer given by the Union Home Ministry shows and demonstrates the perpetration of a fraud on the indigenous people of Assam on the issue of protecting their identity.
Sambhaji Chatrapati, a nominated member to the Rajya Sabha had asked four questions: whether the recommendations of the committee have been submitted to the central government; the nature of the recommendations; time the government is likely to take to examine the recommendations and the timeline for implementation of the recommendations.
The committee is constituted by the central government with specific terms of reference. But the report has been submitted to the state government which is in breach of the terms of reference. The report, submitted way back in February, is yet to reach the central government. This clearly demonstrates that there was hardly any political will on part of the government to fulfil the electoral promises and Clause 6 of the Assam Accord for protection of indigenous people. The ruling alliance in Assam will encounter these issues in coming election.