Guwahati, August 22: The 13-member high-level committee appointed by the Centre to suggest measures to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord has sought suggestions from the public to aid it in its work.
Clause 6 of the Assam Accord states, “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”.
In a public notice issued on Thursday through newspapers, the committee headed by Justice (Retired) BK Sharma has asked stakeholders, social organizations, individuals etc. to give their views, comments and suggestions before September 20.
“We want the public to respond with proper justifications for their suggestions, on basis of which we can form a considered opinion for our recommendations,” said Pallab Bhattacharya, a retired IPS officer and member of the committee.
The Assam Accord was a tripartite agreement signed in 1985 between the Centre, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) that brought the six-year-long anti-foreigner movement in the state to an end.
The committee has sought suggestions on reservation of seats in parliament, legislative assembly and local bodies to indigenous tribal, indigenous Assamese and other indigenous people of Assam.
Views have also been sought on protecting Assamese and other indigenous languages, reservation of employment in central and state government, semi-central government, central public sector undertakings (PSUs) and private sector in Assam.
Public can also suggest measures to protect land rights of indigenous people and promotion, preservation of their cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage.
“We will request research organizations to give their opinion and also consult all stakeholders. There could be some frivolous suggestions too, but that is to be expected,” said Bhattacharya.
One thing that could pose a problem is the definition of who is an indigenous since the Clause 6 only mentions “Assamese people”.
“We are aware of it. But there is broad consensus that the definition of Assamese/indigenous given by the Pranab Gogoi committee in 2012, which was accepted 28 organisations (now 30) of various communities, would be acceptable to all,” said AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi, another member of the committee.
Though protection of land rights was not included in Clause 6, the committee has sought suggestions on the same as it feels constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards for indigenous people would be meaningless without protecting their land rights.
Implementation of the Clause 6 had remained in the backburner for over three decades till the Narendra Modi government formed a 6-member committee this January for the purpose.
But due to widespread opposition in Assam to the Centre’s move to implement the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, which sought to give citizenship to religious minorities from neighbouring countries, all members resigned from the committee.
The new committee, which was formed after NDA returned to power in May, has more members. It has a term of six months and has to submit its recommendations by January 31 next year.