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Constitutional safeguards to Assamese: Assam Accord Clause 6 panel submits report to CM Sonowal

Government wants recommendations within ambit of Constitution; state Assembly to examine panel’s definition of term ‘Assamese’

Published: 25th February 2020 03:21 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th February 2020 03:21 PM   |  A+A-

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. (Photo | Twitter)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: The Assam government said the recommendations of the high-level committee on the implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord would be implemented in toto only if they were within the ambit of the Constitution and the state Assembly ratified the committee’s definition of the term “Assamese”.

The 13-member committee, headed by retired Gauhati High Court judge Justice Biplab Kumar Sarma, submitted the report to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in the presence of all his Cabinet colleagues on Tuesday.

Three leaders of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), who were members of the committee, skipped the meeting as the Centre did not directly accept the report despite the committee’s three written communications on the same.

Assam’s Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told journalists the report, submitted in a sealed cover, would be submitted to the Centre either by Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.

“The Centre is keen on implementing the recommendations of the committee provided they are within the ambit of the Constitution and the Assam Assembly ratifies the committee’s definition of the term Assamese,” Sarma said.

The definition of the term “Assamese” was required as Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, signed in 1985 at the end of six-year-long bloody Assam Agitation, says: “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people”.

Sarma said the Centre would examine the recommendations and the Assam government would share its views if asked by the Centre.

Asked if the government will accept the recommendations in entirety, he said, “It will be premature to discuss much on the report till the Centre minutely examines the recommendations and seeks the views of the state government. We have to see if there is a recommendation that is against an order of the Supreme Court or it is something which cannot be accepted by the state Assembly”.

Sarma was confident the recommendations were within the ambit of the Constitution and law as the members of the committee had rich experience on issues related to administration.

On the three members from the AASU skipping the meeting, he said the Centre had entrusted the CM to receive the report on its behalf.

The committee chairman said they had travelled across the state to seek the views of communities and received some 1,200 memoranda.

“We tried to incorporate the views of the communities as well as that of ours in the report to ensure Constitutional safeguards to the Assamese. It is now up to the Centre how it implements the recommendations,” he said.

According to the report’s contents that got leaked in the media, the committee recommended that 1951 be made the base year for defining Assam’s indigenous people, the introduction of Inner Line Permit (ILP) to restrict the movement of “outsiders” to the state, reservation of Assembly as well as Lok Sabha seats for indigenous people etc.

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