NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday approved the constitution of a high-level committee for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, which provides for protection of the rights of indigenous people of the state. The committee will recommend ways to provide constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to the indigenous people of Assam, including reservation of seats in the state Assembly.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It comes a week before the government is likely to table the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha in July 2016, aims to make crucial changes to the Citizenship Act of 1955. If passed, the Bill will render undocumented immigrants — Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis — from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan eligible for citizenship.
Addressing a press conference, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said it has been felt that Clause six has not been fully implemented almost 35 years after it was signed.“The committee will hold discussions with all stakeholders and assess the required quantum of reservation of seats in Assam Legislative Assembly and local bodies for Assamese people,” he said.
He added that the panel will also assess the requirement of measures to be taken to protect the Assamese and other indigenous languages of the state, the quantum of reservation in employment under the Government of Assam and other measures to protect, preserve and promote cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of Assamese people,” he said. The terms of reference and composition of the committee will be announced within the next few days.
The Cabinet also approved measures to fulfil the outstanding demands of the Bodo community, which is the largest of the 34 tribes in Assam. The Bodo Accord was signed in 2003, resulting in the establishment of a Bodoland Territorial Council. With the signing, the Bodo Liberation Tigers surrendered their weapons.