Why have the Cabinet panels failed in resolving both the issues?
Would any definition on ‘Assamese’ ever be evolved?
GUWAHATI: It’s indeed strange that despite the constitution of a number of Cabinet Sub-committees by the Assam government, both during the previous Congress regimes and also during the present BJP-led coalition government no progress has yet been made with respect to the crucial Clause-VI of the Assam Accord signed on August 15, 1985, and also on the definition of ‘Assamese’.
Clause-VI of the Assam Accord pertains to the Constitutional, Legislative and Administrative safeguards to indigenous Assamese people against alleged illegal migrants from Bangladesh.
Based on the reports of the Cabinet sub-committees, the State Government extends recommendations to the Centre on both the critical matters. The Cabinet Sub-committees formed from time to time did hold meetings but failed to bring about any consensus among the stakeholders.
The first such Cabinet Sub-committee on the issues was constituted in 2006 when the Congress came to power for the second time. Headed by then Revenue Minister Dr Bhumidhar Barman, this five-member panel held four meetings. In 2011, the second such panel was formed when the Congress returned to power for the third time. The eight-member sub-committee headed by then Minister Prithvi Majhi as its chairman held three meetings. Then in 2016, there was a change of guard with the BJP-led coalition in power. As part of its pre-poll promises, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal constituted yet another Cabinet Sub-committee on Clause-VI and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) with Himanta Biswa Sarma as the chairman. Though this panel has had two meetings so far, it has not been able to come to a definite conclusion.
In the most recent development, most of the members of the high powered committee, constituted by the home ministry on implementing Clause-VI of the Assam Accord, have already pulled out after the Centre passed the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in the Lok Sabha. Since the Bill was passed, there has been a series of protests in Assam and the Northeast.
Against this backdrop, it remains to be seen as to the manner in which the present State government goes about in resolving the issue in implementing Clause-VI of the Assam Accord, and also on the definition of ‘Assamese’ people.