The Centre on Wednesday approved the setting up of a high-level committee for the implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, according to which the Centre has to enact constitutional, legislative and administrative measures to protect, preserve and promote cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the state’s indigenous communities.
This comes a week before the government is expected to table the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha in July 2016, aims to make crucial changes to the Citizenship Act of 1955. If passed, it would make undocumented immigrants – Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis – from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh eligible for citizenship. It would also ease the terms for naturalisation of individuals from these groups. Several groups in Assam have objected to the proposed amendments.
The Assam Accord was signed in 1985 between the government and and the leaders of the Assam Movement, which was launched in 1979 to identify and deport undocumented immigrants.
The committee will also examine the effectiveness of actions since 1985 to implement Clause 6. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the committee would hold discussions with all stakeholders to determine the required amount of reservation of seats in the State Assembly and local bodies for Assamese people.
“The setting up of the committee will pave the way for the implementation of the Assam Accord in letter and spirit and will help fulfil longstanding expectations of the Assamese people,” said Singh.
The Cabinet also approved a number of measures to fulfil the outstanding demands of the Bodo community, which is the the largest of the 34 tribes in Assam. The Bodo Accord was signed in 2003, resulting in the establishment of a Bodoland Territorial Council under the Sixth Schedule of Constitution. With the signing of the accord, the Bodo Liberation Tigers surrerended their weapons and their leader Hagrama Mohilary was made the Chief Executive Member of the council.
“The Cabinet today approved the establishment of a Bodo Musuem-cum language and cultural study center, modernisation of existing All India Radio Station and Doordarshan Kendra at Kokrajhar and naming a Super-fast Train passing through BTAD as ARONAI Express,” said Singh. Aronai is a traditonal scarf worn by the Bodo people.