Centre unlikely to accept some recommendations of Clause 6 committee

A government official said the recommendation for bringing entire Assam under provisions of the Inner Line Permit will have to be examined legally. The committee is yet to formally submit its report to the MHA.

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GUWAHATI | NEW DELHI: The Centre is unlikely to accept some recommendations of the high-level committee on Assam Accord’s Clause 6. The recommendations have triggered a wave of criticism in the state over the 1951 cut-off date to make one eligible for benefits under Clause 6. A government official said the recommendation for bringing entire Assam under provisions of the Inner Line Permit will have to be examined legally. The committee is yet to formally submit its report to the MHA.

The All India United Democratic Front and some Bengali organisations have opposed 1951 as base year for extending constitutional benefits to indigenous people of Assam, recommended by the panel formed to make suggestions on how to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. Clause 6 in the accord was incorporated to ensure constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of Assamese.

Panel members and home ministry officials have held several rounds of deliberations over the last 2 months. Officials familiar with the contents of the report said the panel had finalised its report but was yet to formally submit it to MHA. “They are of the view that the people of Assam have already accepted everyone who arrived in Assam as per provisions of the 1985 Assam Accord, but for constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, the panel wants 1951 as cut-off date,” a senior government official told ET.



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Opposition parties, however, said that since Assam Accord accepted March 24, 1971, as cut-off date for detection and deportation of foreigners, 1951 was not acceptable. AIUDF’s Aminul Islam said: “We have submitted memorandum to the Clause 6 panel stating that 1971 must be the base year. What will happen to rights of those people who arrived between 1951 and 1971? It is not acceptable. The Citizenship Amendment Act will provide Citizenship to people who came between 1971 and 2014. What will happen to their rights?” The AIUDF leader said reservation of seats would deprive others of legitimate claims.

The committee has also suggested introduction of the Inner Line Permit system in the entire state which officials say may face legal scrutiny. A member told ET: “The committee deliberated on the number of seats to be reserved for indigenous people in different elected bodies. However there were some minor differences in the percentage of reservation.” The committee has also recommended a Upper House for the Assam legislature.
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The 1985 Assam Accord was inked after six years’ anti-foreigner movement. As per the accord, foreigners who entered the state after March 24, 1971, irrespective of their religious affiliation, are to be deported. “While All Assam Students Union wanted 100% reservations in elected bodies, some members said 67% reservation must be given besides reservations for SCs and STs.

There is apprehension in the Bengali-dominated Barak valley of Assam. Sodu Asom Bangali Ekomancha working president Santanu Mukherjee told ET: “There will be nothing but grave injustice if the report is implemented. There is no consensus on the definition of Assamese or indigenous. History has been ignored. The panel did not call us for consultation.”
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