The Home Ministry office at North Block in New Delhi. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu
Notification under Clause 6 of Assam Accord comes amid protests over Citizenship Bill.
The Centre has set up a high-level committee headed by former IAS officer M.P. Bezbaruah to assess the appropriate level of reservation of seats in the Assam Assembly and local bodies for the Assamese people, besides providing employment opportunities.
Last week the Union Cabinet took a decision in this effect as per the 1985 Assam Accord.
The committee and its Terms of Reference (ToR) were notified a day before the joint parliamentary committee on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, is expected to table its report in Parliament, paving the way for India to grant citizenship to six persecuted minorities — Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists — from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to India before 2014.
There has been a strong resistance to the Bill in BJP-ruled Assam as it would pave the way for giving citizenship, mostly to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh in Assam, who came after March 1971, in violation of the 1985 Assam Accord.
In a notification, the Home Ministry said the committee will examine the effectiveness of actions taken since 1985 to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.
“The committee will assess the appropriate level of reservation of seats in Assam Legislative Assembly and local bodies for the Assamese people. The committee will recommend the appropriate level of reservations in employment under the government of Assam for the Assamese people,” the notification said.
The notification said the panel will also hold discussions with various stakeholders, including social organisations, legal and constitutional experts, eminent persons from the field of art, culture and literature, conservationists, economists, linguists and sociologists.
It will suggest measures to be taken to protect Assamese and other indigenous languages of Assam.
The committee can also suggest any other measures, as may be necessary, to protect, preserve and promote cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
It will submit its report within six months from the date of notification (January 5).
The panel will be facilitated by the North East Division of the Home Ministry, and the State government will provide necessary administrative and logistic support to the committee.
Clause 6 of the Accord states: “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people”.
Besides Mr. Bezbarauah, the members of the panel are former IAS officer Subhash Das, former presidents of Assam Sahitya Sabha Nagen Saikia and Rongbong Terang, former editor of The Sentinel Dhiren Bezbaruah, educationalist Mukunda Rajbangshi, Advocate General of Assam Ramesh Borpatragohain, and one representative of the All Assam Students’ Union.
The joint secretary in the Home Ministry will be member secretary.