GUWAHATI, July 20: The All Assam Students Union (AASU) has demanded that the State Government use its goodwill with the Union Government to implement Clause-VI of the Assam Accord. Expressing its discontent at the manner in which both the Delhi and the Assam governments are dragging their feet in implementing the crucial clause of the Accord, the apex students’ organization of the state called for urgent steps to constitute the committee that is supposed to look into various angles of the provision. In fact, no concrete step has been taken to even constitute the committee to implement the clause.
AASU general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi talking to The Sentinel said: “It is quite unfortunate that we do not notice the right manner of approach of either the Union government or the Assam government in forming the nine-member panel to implement the vital Clause-VI component of the historic Assam Accord.”
Clause-VI of the Assam Accord provides constitutional shield to the indigenous people of the State. It deals with protecting the rights of the locals insofar as language, culture and land are concerned.
After assuming power at the Centre in May 2014, the BJP government gave a commitment to implement the Assam Accord. Accordingly a panel was supposed to be constituted to study the provisions and also suggest means to put it into action. The decision to form the committee was taken at a meeting in Delhi on April 26, 2017. Chairing the crucial tripartite meeting where representatives of the Assam Government, the Central Government and AASU were present, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh gave the assurance in the very presence of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. It was further decided that the nine-member committee would be constituted with three members each from the participating parties.
Despite the commitment, the matter remained hanging for more than a year when the issue came up for discussion in another meeting with the State government in Delhi on May 30, 2018. Union Home Minister Singh once again gave the commitment. However, nothing significant developed beyond the assurances.
Gogoi further pointed out: “Time is fast running out. With the general elections due in April-May 2019, very little could be accomplished even if the committee is constituted now. Moreover, it is highly surprising as to why the Sarbananda Sonowal government is sleeping over the matter. How can it forget that the BJP-AGP-BPF combine came to power vowing to protect the interests of the indigenous people? Obviously, the masses would definitely demand to know what the Sonowal government has done on Clause-VI of the Assam Accord during the more than two years it has been in power here.”
Implementation of the Clause provisions assumes significance against the backdrop of the masses’ movements against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016. To ensure that the State is free from the influences of illegal foreign nationals, Clause-VI of the Assam Accord is the most ideal weapon whereby the indigenous people of the State can be assured of safeguards as to their ‘Jati, Mati, Bheti’ (Identity, land and base). Besides, it can also be a potent tool to buttress the findings in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) so that the locals can be provided the constitutional safeguard.