Guwahati, February 19: Assam is all set to be home to two types of citizens in near future. One will be the citizens having all rights and protections with respect to land and social-economic development. However, the other lot will have no such rights.
It has been revealed in the exclusive report submitted by high power committee on implementation of clause 6 of Assam Accord. The committee which was formed when the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) came into effect last year. IT is headed by former justice of Gauhati High Court, Biplab Kumar Sharma who in its final report said that, the people who were living in Assam on or before January 1, 1951, irrespective of their religious and ethnic identity are the people of Assam, and thus people of Assam will have the land rights, legislative safeguards related to employment, administrative and constitutional matters.
The committee submitted its final report to joint secretary Home Satyendra Garg, who is member secretary of this high-power committee on February 14, 2020.
Assamese vs indigenous
The high-power committee was assigned to define the Assamese people as per clause 6 of Assam Accord and the cultural, legislative and constitutional safeguard which was necessitated for the Assamese people. It was a major debate of the state as various tribal groups are distancing themselves from the ambit of Assamese people so a narrative was grown that the word Assamese people will be replace by indigenous people of Assam. In this situation the committee recommended the word Assamese people to be substituted by people of Assam of clause 6 of Assam Accord.
The committee recommended that 67% of legislative assembly and parliamentary constituencies of Assam will be exclusively reserved for people of Assam as defined by the high-power committee on implementation of clause 6 of Assam Accord. The Assamese people defined here are those who were living in Assam on January 1, 1951 and their descendants. Moreover, 16% seats of Assam assembly and parliamentary constituencies of Assam will be reserved for people from scheduled caste and scheduled tribes of Assam. Thus 83 % constituencies of Assam assembly and parliamentary constituencies of Assam have been recommended for exclusive reservation where Indian constitution disallows reservation exceeding 49%. Likewise, the committee also recommended that in case of employment 100% seats will be reserved for people of Assam or the people who were living in Assam till January 1, 1951 and their descendants.
Regarding land rights, the high-power committee recommended that people of Assam will have the exclusive rights on land in Assam. 100% land will be reserved for people of Assam. It means that the people of Assam who are citizen of India till March 24, 1971 as per Assam Accord and non-Muslim people who have entered Assam from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afganistan till December 31, 2014 are citizen of India as per CAA will have no rights regarding land and legislature in the state of Assam.
Who will be the ‘have-nots’
The people who have entered Assam between January 1, 1951 and March 24, 1971 will able to stay in the state of Assam but they will have no rights regarding land and legislature. These groups of people will have the voting rights but they will have no rights to elected in the state of Assam! They will also not be able to enjoy the benefits of reservation in employment and education. It will not only violate the Constitution of India but it will also be an overall violation of all laws as set by various international bodies. It is simply a divide and rule policy of BJP government in Assam.
Challenges to implementation of the recommendations of high-power committee
The recommendations of high-power committee on clause 6 of Assam Accord will create certain problems in the upcoming days in Assam. Firstly, the list of the people of Assam who were living on January 1, 1951 is not available. It is said that this will be ascertained from the NRC, 1951. But as per government records there are almost 13 districts of Assam where NRC, 1951 is not available or partially available. The government of Assam submitted a list on the availability of NRC, 1951 where it said in Assam Assembly that, there are 1,365 villages in the state of Assam, where NRC, 1951 is completely unavailable. In this context, to define the people of Assam as per recommendation of high-power committee will be tough.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi while taking part in a huge rally at Kokrajhar in Assam on 6th February, 2020, had said that whatever the recommendations appears from the high-power committee on clause 6 of Assam Accord, the government of India will implement it without any changes. It was also reiterated by union Home Minister Amit Shah repeatedly including in parliament while he was answering the debate on CAA.
But, the government of India has turned down the high-power committee recommended reconciliation of Eastern Bengal Frontier Regulations 1873 in Assam. As per report, the reconciliation of Eastern Bengal Frontier Regulations 1873 will create a bar on implementation of CAA in Assam.
So, there were at least 4 meetings where joint Home Secretary, Government of India, Satyendra Garg, who is member secretary of the committee, was not present. It was informed to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sanowal, who also spoke to Garg, but had no results. So, the committee submitted its unsigned final report to Satyendra Garg on February 14, 2020, and send a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah to formally submit the report. After repeated communications the committee was not allotted time to meet Amit Shah.
Rather, the union joint Home Secretary, Satyendra Garg advised the committee to change the line “Union Government will take proper steps to reconciliation of Eastern Bengal Frontier Regulations 1873 in Assam” to “Union Government may take proper steps to reconciliation of Eastern Bengal Frontier Regulations 1873 in Assam”. It antagonised all other members of the committee. In this situation the Chairman of the high-power committee submitted its final report to Assam Accord implementation Department on February 19, 2020. The final report was signed by all members other than Satyendra Garg.