The High-Level Committee on Implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord announced that its final report will be ready in a fortnight. After the committee’s report, the centre may come out soon with a report defining who is an Assamese.
On January 13th, 2020, Biplab Kumar Sarma, the Chairman of the committee, announced this came after holding a meeting with the Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi.
Speaking to the media persons, Sarma said the meeting was held to take suggestions from the Centre. “The government had also taken suggestions from different stakeholders, including the state government. The Centre gave its suggestions in a cordial atmosphere,” he added.
He further said that the committee would sit with other 10 members on January 16th, 2020, to finalise the report. “We hope it will be ready within 15 days,” he added.
Sarma, who is a retired judge, ruled out taking the year 1971 as a cut-off date for identification of Assamese people as has been demanded by some organisations and political parties.
It needs to be mentioned that several futile attempts have been made so far to arrive at an acceptable definition of the term Assamese. Former Speaker of the state Legislative Assembly Pranab Gogoi had also put his effort but in vain.
The Assam Congress claimed that the implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord would boomerang for the government without defining the term Assamese.
Panel on Assam Accord
The Union Home Ministry reconstituted the High-Level Committee on July 16th, 2019 to suggest how to implement Clause 6. Besides Sarma, the committee had three other members — Ramesh Borpatragohain, Mrinal Miri and Subhash Das. It was given six months to submit a report.
In January 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government had notified a high-level committee for implementation of the clause 6.
The committee will assess the appropriate level of reservation of seats in the Assam legislative assembly and local bodies for the Assamese people, the notification stated. The committee was asked to submit its report within six months.
The Assam Accord was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement. It was signed in the presence of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in New Delhi on August 15th, 1985 after a six-year-long agitation started in 1979. The demand of the agitators was to identify and deport all illegal foreigners – predominantly Bangladeshi immigrants.
Clause 5 of the Assam Accord
Clause 5 of the Accord deals with the foreigners’ issue. As per this clause, January 1st, 1966, shall be the base date and year for detection and deletion of foreigners. It further stated that all persons who came to Assam prior to January 1st, 1066, including those amongst them whose name appeared on the electoral rolls used in 1967 elections, shall be regularized.
“Foreigners who came to Assam after January 1st, 1966 (inclusive) and upto March 24th, 1971 shall be detected in accordance with the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order 1964,” the clause reads.
The clause further states:
- Names of Foreigners so detected will be deleted from the electoral rolls in force. Such persons will be required to register themselves before the Registration Officers of the respective districts in accordance with the provisions of the Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939 and the Registration of Foreigners Rules, 1939.
- For this purpose, the Government of India will undertake suitable strengthening of the governmental machinery.
- On the expiry of a period of ten years following the date of detection, the names of all such persons which have been deleted from the electoral rolls shall be restored.
- All persons who were expelled, earlier, but have since re-entered illegally into Assam, shall be expelled.
- Foreigners who came to Assam on or after March 25th, 1971 shall continue to be detected, deleted and expelled in accordance with the law. Immediate and practical steps shall be taken to expel such foreigners.
- The Government will give due consideration to certain difficulties expressed by the AASU/AAGSP regarding the implementation of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983.
Clause 6 of the Assam Accord
Clause 6 of the Assam Accord promises constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, preserve and promote the culture, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the “Assamese” people.