Context:

The Assam government set up an eight-member sub-committee to examine and prepare a framework for the implementation of all clauses of the Assam Accord of 1985.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Policies and Interventions, Issues arising due to the design and implementation of policies), GS-II: Polity and Governance (Citizenship)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Assam Accord?
  2. The key issue: Clause 6 of the accord
  3. Issues
  4. Bezbarauah committee:

What is the Assam Accord?

  • The Assam Accord is a tripartite accord signed between the Government of India, State Government of Assam and the leaders of the Assam Movement in 1985.
  • This accord led to the conclusion of a six-year agitation that was launched by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) in 1979, demanding the identification and deportation of illegal immigrants from Assam.
  • The demand was for detection and deportation of migrants who had illegally entered Assam after 1951 – however, the accord  sets a cut-off of midnight of 24th March 1971, for the detection of illegal foreigners in Assam.

The key issue: Clause 6 of the accord

  • Clause 6 of the Assam Accord says that 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.
  • The committee chaired by Biplab Kumar Sarma was constituted to define ‘Assamese People’ and institute safeguards for them.
    • This committee’s report proposed January 1951 as the cut-off date for any Indian citizen residing in Assam to be defined as an Assamese for the purpose of implementing Clause 6. The report also sought reservation for Assamese in Parliament, state assembly, local bodies and quotas in government jobs.
    • The report also recommended the regulation of entry of people from other states into Assam, which include the implementation of an Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime in the state.
    • The report also talks about issues related to land and land rights, linguistic, cultural and social rights and protection of the state’s resources and biodiversity.

Issues

  • According to the recommendations, people who migrated between 1951 and 1971, including large sections of post-Partition refugees, would be Indian citizens under the Assam Accord and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), but they would not be eligible for safeguards meant for “Assamese people” under Clause 6 of the Accord.
  • East Bengal migrants who entered Assam before 1951 would be considered Assamese.
  • There is no mechanism to prove that a person has been in Assam prior to 1951. The 1951 NRC is not available in several parts of the state and the current NRC being made uses 1971 as a cut-off.

Bezbarauah committee:

  • The High-Level Committee (HLC) for implementation of Clause 6 of Assam Accord headed by M.P. Bezbarauah, IAS (Retd.), includes eminent Assamese persons from different fields. (The HLC will be serviced by the North-East Division of Union Ministry of Home Affairs.)
  • The Mandates of the Committee are:
    • To examine the effectiveness of actions taken since 1985 to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.
    • To assess the appropriate level of reservation of seats in Assam Legislative Assembly and local bodies for the Assamese people.
    • To recommend the appropriate level of reservations in employment under the Government of Assam for the Assamese people.
    • To suggest measures to protect cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
  • The Committee will submit its report within 6 months from the date of notification.

-Source: The Hindu

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