Clause 6 of Assam Accord: Cabinet clears high-level panel to safeguard Assamese identity

The Union Home Ministry will set up a high-level committee to look into the implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, which “envisaged that appropriate constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday.

Clause 6 of the Assam Accord “envisaged that appropriate constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.”

Hold discussions with all stakeholders and assess the required quantum of reservation of seats in the Assam Assembly and local bodies for Assamese people.

Look at measures to protect Assamese and other indigenous languages of Assam, reservation in state government jobs, and other steps to protect, preserve and promote cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of Assamese people.

Suggest constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards and examine the effectiveness of actions since 1985 to implement the clause.

Look into issues of the Bodo people, especially the measures mentioned in the Memorandum of Settlement signed between the Government of India, Assam government and the Bodo Liberation Tigers Force in 2003.

Significance:

  • The setting up of the committee will pave the way for the implementation of the Assam Accord in letter and spirit and will help fulfill longstanding expectations of Assamese people.
  • The Union Cabinet’s announcement comes at a time when Centre is facing criticism in Assam over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which proposes to make minority (non-Muslim) immigrants from three neighboring countries — Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan — eligible for Indian citizenship.
  • But as per the Assam Accord, any person who came to the state after the midnight of March 24, 1971, will be identified as a foreigner. So the proposed Bill is seen to violate the Assam Accord by differentiating between migrants on the basis of religion.

What is the Assam Accord?

  • The Assam Accord (1985) was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985.
  • The accord brought an end to the Assam Agitation and paved the way for the leaders of the agitation to form a political party and form a government in the state of Assam soon after.
  • As per the Accord, those Bangladeshis who came between 1966 and 1971 will be barred from voting for ten years. The Accord also mentions that the international borders will be sealed and all persons who crossed over from Bangladesh after 1971 are to be deported.
  • Though the accord brought an end to the agitation, some of the key clauses are yet to be implemented, which has kept some of the issues festering.
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