Proposing a definition of ‘Assamese people’ for the purpose of implementing Clause 6 of Assam Accord, introduction of Inner Line Permit (ILP), reservation of land and land rights, and protection of resources and biodiversity are some of the key recommendations in a report of a ‘Committee on Implementation of Clause 6 of Assam Accord’, with the clause dealing with ‘constitutional safeguards’ for the people of Assam.
The report, which was submitted to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on February 25, was made public by the All Assam Students Union (AASU), with the chief adviser, president and general secretary of the students’ body, which was a signatory of the Assam Accord, being members of the committee.
Alleging secrecy on part of the government on the status of the report since its submission, the AASU leaders on August 11 placed the report before the public, claiming there was no breach of confidentiality while doing so.
Among the key recommendations is a proposed definition of ‘Assamese people’ for implementation of Clause 6, which should consist of indigenous tribal as well as other indigenous communities of the state over and above indigenous Assamese, and their descendants, residing in the territory of Assam on or before January 1, 1951.
The committee has recommended adequate measures for introduction of ILP for the entire state while also ensuring right over land only for the Assamese people.
“The land rights to be confined to the ‘Assamese people’ putting restrictions on transferring the same by any means to other persons other than ‘Assamese people’,” the report said.
It has also suggested identification of revenue circles where only Assamese people can own and possess land and transfer land, in addition to tribal belts and blocks, and also taking ‘immediate steps to prevent shrinkage/decrease of prime agricultural land’.
The report has further recommended prohibition in transfer of tea land from original grantee to any other person by any covert mechanism and total prohibition in transfer of tea land for any other use without the permission of the state government. Administrative reforms in land management have also been stressed by the committee.
The committee has recommended 80 to 100% reservation of seats in parliament, state legislative assembly and local bodies for Assamese people, which will be inclusive of pre-existing reservations.
It has also recommended for an Upper House (Legislative Council of Assam) with all seats reserved for the Assamese people.
Reservation of jobs between 80 to 100% in group C and D level posts in government, PSUs, and private sectors including under PPP mode has been recommended in the report.
The committee has suggested measures for conservation and promotion of Assamese language as well as other indigenous languages of the state though various provisions, including creation of an Autonomous Language and Literature Academy/Council of Assam for the purpose.
Various provisions for safeguarding and promoting cultural and social rights, including ancient monuments and records, satras, namgahars and other indigenous religious institutions, have been recommended in the report.
The protection of natural resources and biodiversity and creating of economic opportunities through judicious use of the same have been elaborated in the report.
For effective implementation of the report, constitutional and legislative measures, including executive instructions, would be needed, and for that purpose, the committee has made certain suggestions for appropriate constitutional and legislative amendments.
It has also pitched for formation of a body, preferably headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or high court, to monitor execution of the recommendations of this committee and reconcile any constitutional or legal challenges that may arise in its implementations.
The committee, in the 141-page report, including annexure, has also advocated time bound full implementation of the Assam Accord, signed on August 15, 1985, to facilitate detection, deletion and deportation of foreigners from Assam; and prompt and adequate measures to seal the Indo-Bangladesh border in line of Indo-Pakistan border.