Guwahati: A day later All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), on Tuesday released the confidential report prepared and submitted by the high-level committee for implementation of the Clause 6 of Assam Accord, former chief minister Tarun Gogoi came down heavily on incumbent chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and blamed him of duping the people of the state.
The AASU, a signatory of the Assam Accord, alleged that despite the high-level committee had submitted its report to the Union Home Ministry some five months back, the Centre was sitting idle on it.
Hours after AASU released the confidential report in public, Sonowal reassured that the state government was committed to implement the recommendations made in the report. Sonowal claimed that the proceeding was delayed due to the global pandemic of Coronavirus.
Gogoi said, “Has any other government work gotten delayed for so long due to Coronavirus? Why the Home Ministry can’t publicly say that it has accepted the report and working for it. The recommendations need to be drafted as a bill and then pass in Parliament as an Act before implementation. I can understand that the COVID situation may affect holding Parliament session but at least the Centre can accept the recommendations and work on that. Sonowal is only fooling around.”
The Centre had constituted the high-level committee on July 16, 2019, for recommending measures to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord in which three members of the AASU were included in the committee. Accordingly, the Committee, headed by retired Justice Biplab Sharma, submitted its report to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in Guwahati on February 25 this year.
After discussing with numerous organisations, individuals and government for seven months the committee had prepared the report with a number of recommendations on measures to be taken to implement Clause 6.
Clause 6 of Assam Accord envisages constitutional, legislative and administrative measures to safeguard, protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
In its recommendation, the committee suggested the 1951 cutoff date for protection of constitutional safeguards for the indigenous people of the state and to implement an Inner Line Permit (ILP) mechanism for the state.
The former CM added, “Sonowal has assured that he is committed to implementing Clause 6 of Assam Accord and ironically he is also committed to implementing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). He doesn’t even know what is he committed to fulfill. Sonowal must stop thinking that the people of the state don’t understand his hollow words.”
According to AASU, the Committee had recommended five specific categories to define the ‘Assamese’ keeping in mind the implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.
These categories were – Assamese communities residing in the territory of Assam on or before January 1, 1951, any indigenous tribal community residing in the territory of Assam on or before January 1, 1951, any other indigenous community residing in the territory of Assam on or before January 1, 1951, all other citizens of India residing in the territory of Assam on or before January 1, 1951, and descendants of the above categories.
AASU also said that the committee also recommended an ‘Upper House’, and 80 to 100 percent reservation for jobs in various sectors for the indigenous Assamese.
According to a source, the recommendation of the high-level committee on the Assam Accord on the definition of “Assamese people” has caught the BJP governments at the Centre and in the State in a bind.
The Assam Accord was signed in 1985 between the Rajiv Gandhi government and the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) to end the six-year-long anti-foreigner movement in the north-eastern state bordering Bangladesh.