Clause 6

AASU makes Clause 6 report public, Delhi-Dispur caught on wrong foot

By- TALMIZUR RAHMAN

Guwahati: Clause 6 of the Assam Accord has been the bone of contention across the political spectrum in Assam since the day of signing of the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985. Finally, in 2019 the Centre decided to constitute a high-level committee to look into all aspects of the clause that would submit a report on it for due implementation.

In line with the Centre’s decision, a high-level committee with retired High Court Judge Biplab Kr Sarma as the Chairman was formed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) after due consultation with the state government.

It is over five months now that the committee submitted the report to the Centre. Since some time, the AASU leaders who were also members of the committee have been repeatedly raising the issue of making the report public by the Centre.

With the Centre as well as the state government paying no heed to the AASU demand, on Tuesday the AASU leadership headed by its chief adviser Samujjwal Bhattacharya made the report public independently at a press meet in Guwahati.

Interestingly, senior Guwahati High court advocate Niloy Dutta who is also a member of the committee took part in the press meet through video conferencing.

As per the report, the government has been asked to accept 1951 as the cut off year in determining the definition of ‘Assamese people’. All the indigenous people of Assam irrespective of caste, creed, community, language, religion, ethnicity and such other factors who were residents of Assam in 1951 should be included under the definition of ‘Assamese people’. All Indian citizens who lived in Assam on that appointed date should also be considered as ‘Assamese people’.

Significantly, under the Assam Accord, the ‘Assamese people’ should be given special constitutional safeguards under Clause 6. The report has also made a list of recommendations as constitutional safeguards for the ‘Assamese people’.

Another recommendation made by the report may turn out to be a red eye-sore for the Centre and the state government. While the Centre along with the state government is doing everything possible to keep Assam out of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) ambit with a view to accommodating possibly millions of Hindu Bangladeshi immigrants within the territory of Assam, the report has strongly recommended the implementation of ILP in Assam.

For sure, it was the cardinal duty of the Centre and the Assam government to make the report public despite the fact that over five months have elapsed since the submission of the report. The general feeling that was gaining ground among the public was that the Centre might not allow the report to be available in the public domain as it was not upto its liking from the stand-point of CAA.

What has been done cannot be undone. Certainly, in the days to come, the media shall be agog with attacks and counter-attacks from rival ends. Quite possibly, a new chapter of ‘no holds barred’ political battle as well as legal battles may be on the cards. The Centre may not welcome legal battles as the same, more often than not, consume a lot more time for settlement. However, under the present dispensation, it is indeed difficult to make a guess. One never knows – a super fast track court may come to stay.

In any case, with the Assam Assembly election just about half-a-year away and with the Sonowal-led government having failed miserably on all fronts pertaining to ‘roti, kapda aur maakan’, the action by AASU may come in as a hard political blow to the ruling dispensation in Assam.

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