Union home minister Rajnath Singh had announced a high-powered committee in New Delhi on January 4 to suggest ways to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. It’s only been a week and as many as five of the nine members have declined to be a part of the MHA committee.
New Delhi: Union home minister Rajnath Singh had announced a high-powered committee in New Delhi on January 4 to suggest ways to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. It’s only been a week and as many as five of the nine members have declined to be a part of the MHA committee.
The committee was formed as per a Union Cabinet decision to offset widespread opposition among the majority population of the northeastern state to the Centre’s decision to pass the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.
The committee, notified on January 7, was to be headed by retired Central government bureaucrat M.P. Bezbaruah, with noted Guwahati-based journalist Dhiren Bezbaruah, writers Nagen Sarma and Rongbong Terang, educationist Mukunda Rajbongshi, retired bureaucrat Subash Das, advocate general of Assam Ramesh Borpatra Gohain and a representative of the All Assam Students Union (AASU) as members. Satyendra Garg, the joint secretary (North East) at the MHA, will represent the Central government.
Clause 6 of the Accord entails constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to “Assamese people” to protect their cultural heritage and social and linguistic identity. The panel was given a mandate of six months to submit its report to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“The clause 6 committee is a Cabinet-constituted committee and not a Bill. So, once the government changes at the Centre, the recommendation of the committee will not mean anything. Earlier, I thought I will participate in the committee and give some recommendations for the protection of indigenous people,” Saikia said.
“I think by keeping this committee in front, the government wants the Citizenship Bill to be passed,” said Saikia, a former president of the Asom Sahitya Sabha, the apex literary body of Assam.
“When AASU, which was a signatory to the Assam Accord, has refused to be a part of the committee, there is no question that I should be a part,” said Terang, who also presided over the Asom Sahitya Sabha in the past.
The Home Ministry-instituted committee nominated one member of AASU as a committee member. The student body refused to be a part until the Citizenship Bill was scrapped.
Bezbaruah, a senior journalist and former Editor of The Sentinel, has also told the government about his inability to join the committee.
“I thank the government for appointing me as a member but it will be better if the government leaves me out as I am getting old and trying to reduce my engagements,” he said.