The All Assam Students Union (AASU) made public a high-level committee’s confidential report on the implementation of 1985 Assam Accord’s Clause 6, which pertains to safeguards for the preservation and promotion of Assamese identity and heritage.
Q. Which committee is this?
A. In February, a government-appointed committee had submitted its recommendations for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, a key provision that has been contentious for decades.
The committee was set up by the Home Ministry in 2019. Headed by retired High Court judge Biplab Kumar Sarma.
Its brief was to define the “Assamese people” and suggest measures for the safeguard of their rights.
Q. What does Clause 6 say?
Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, which was signed in 1985 after the Assam Agitation of 1979-85, envisages that appropriate “constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards should be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the people of Assam.” This Clause was inserted to safeguard the socio-political rights and culture of the “indigenous people of Assam”.
Q. What is Assam Accord?
- The Assam Accord (1985) was a Memorandum of Settlement signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985.
- The accord brought an end to the Assam Agitation and paved the way for the leaders of the agitation to form a political party and form a government in the state of Assam soon after.
- Some of the key demands were – All those foreigners who had entered Assam between 1951 and 1961 were to be given full citizenship, including the right to vote.
- Those who had done so after 1971 were to be deported; the entrants between 1961 and 1971 were to be denied voting rights for ten years but would enjoy all other rights of citizenship.
- A parallel package for the economic development of Assam, including a second oil refinery, a paper mill and an institute of technology, was also worked out.
- The central government also promised to provide ‘legislative and administrative safeguards to protect the cultural, social, and linguistic identity and heritage’ of the Assamese people.
- Though the accord brought an end to the agitation, some of the key clauses are yet to be implemented, which has kept some of the issues festering
Q. What are some of key recommendations of committee?
A. The committee has proposed that the following be considered Assamese people for the purpose of Clause 6:
- All citizens of India who are part of:
- Assamese community, residing in the Territory of Assam on or before January 1, 1951; or
- Any indigenous tribal community of Assam residing in the territory of Assam on or before January 1, 1951; or
- Any other indigenous community of Assam residing in the territory of Assam on or before January 1, 1951; or
- All other citizens of India residing in the territory of Assam on or before January 1, 1951; and
- Descendants of the above categories.
Q. What are the implications and impacts of these recommendations?
A. Clause 6 is meant to give the Assamese people certain safeguards, which would not be available to migrants between 1951 and 1971.
If the recommendation is accepted, those who migrated between 1951 and 1971 would be Indian citizens under the Assam Accord and NRC, but they would not be eligible for safeguards meant for “Assamese people”.
Q. What are these safeguards?
- 80 to 100% reservation in the parliamentary seats of Assam, Assembly seats and local body seats be reserved for the “Assamese people”.80 to 100% of Group C and D level posts (in Assam) in central government/semi-central government/central PSUs/private sector.
- 80 to 100% of jobs under Government of Assam and state government undertakings; and 70 to 100% of vacancies arising in private partnerships
- Land rights, with restrictions imposed on transferring land by any means to persons other than “Assamese people”.
- Several other recommendations deal with language, and cultural and social rights.