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Nothing new in Rajnath�s announcement: AASU

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, June 5 - Though the Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh recently announced that a committee to look into the implementation of clause 6 of the Assam Accord would be constituted, the All Assam Students� Union (AASU) has claimed that there is nothing new in the announcement and warned that the Government should not try to create confusion in the minds of the people with such announcements.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said that clause 6 of the Assam Accord and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 are two separate issues and the Government should not try to create confusion in the minds of the people by trying to mix up the issues. He pointed out that through clause 6 of the Accord, the Government promised to provide constitutional safeguard to the indigenous people of the State, while, the new Bill would violate the main clause of the Accord, that is, detection and deportation of the foreigners, who entered the State after the midnight of March 24, 1971.

Bhattacharya also said that the announcement of formation of a committee to examine the matters relating to clause 6 of the Accord is also nothing new. He revealed that a tripartite subcommittee to suggest measures to implement clauses 6 and 7 of the Accord was formed in the early part of 1990s. The Sub Committee, headed by the Joint Secretary (North East) of the Ministry of Home Affairs and it had three representatives each from the Central Government, State Government and AASU. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who was then the president of the AASU, was also a member of the subcommittee.

The sub committee had taken a decision on reservation of seats in Assembly, Parliament and local bodies for the indigenous people of the State but the decision on the number of seats to be kept reserved could not be taken at that time. Moreover, the State Government could not define �Assamese people�, which slowed down the process. After GK Pillai became the Union Home Secretary in 2009, the issue came up again and a series of discussions took place. But the process slowed down again after the retirement of Pillai in 2011. Bhattacharya said that in the meantime , former Assam Assembly speaker Pranab Gogoi took an initiative and held a series of discussions with cross sections of people including AASU and 28 organizations representing ethnic groups of the State and came up with a formula on the eligibility of the people who would be eligible for reservation under clause 6 of the Accord.

Bhattacharya said that last year the Union Home Minister held a tripartite meeting on implementation of the Accord and assured that the tripartite committee on implementation of clauses 6 and 7 of the Accord would be reconstituted. But the Centre did not take any initiative to do so for a year and only after the agitation against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 gathered momentum, the Home Minister announced that the committee would be constituted. This is nothing but an attempt to create confusion in the minds of the people, he alleged.

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