Is MHA distancing itself from Assam Clause 6 committee report?

Report will be submitted to Assam Chief Minister instead of MHA representative


Just yesterday, we had told you how the recommendations of a report by Assam Clause 6 committee were all set to divide Assam into a state of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. We had also told you how the report was perceived to e rather contentious and how Home Secretary, Government of India, Satyendra Garg, who is member secretary of the committee, had not signed the report.

Now, it turns out that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), that was originally expected to receive the report on behalf of the Government of India, might now even receive the report. According to the Indian Express, the report will be handed over to the Assam state government and not the MHA that constituted the committee in the first place. Sources told the Indian Express that there is unease in the central government over the report because the committee is learnt to have recommended a 1951 cut-off date to define “Assamese” people, and has also suggested an Inner Line Permit regime for the state.

SabrangIndia had reported earlier that 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.

Now, Assam Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has told the Indian Express, “Yes, they will submit the report on February 25 to the Chief Minister. He will receive it on behalf of the Government of India.” Another MHA source told the paper, “We are told the cut-off date they have set for defining Assamese is pre-1951 NRC. This means if we accept it, we will have to conduct another NRC in Assam. Also, we are not yet in favour of granting the ILP to Assam.”

Amit Shah’s case for Clause 6 committee

It may be recalled that it was Home Minister Amit Shah who had called out the previous governments for failing to form the Clause 6 committee. Now, Clause 6 of the Assam Accord says, “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.” Nowhere does it mention requirement for formation of any committee.

It may also be recalled that telecast of Rajya Sabha TV was temporarily suspended on December 10, 2019, when Amit Shah started speaking about the Clause 6 committee. At 12:20 PM Shah started speaking about Assam. He said, “As far as Assam is concerned, I want to put forth a hard truth before the house. In 1985, then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi signed the Assam Accord. As per clause six of the accord government was to protect the identity, language, culture and representation of the people of Assam. The government was to set up a committee under clause 6 to look into this. But this committee was not made until Narendra Modi came to power.” Shah went on to invoke the martyrs of the Assam agitation saying, “We believe that the sacrifices of the martyrs should not go in vain. Which is why we will bring the real solution to Assam’s problems. This is why we have created a clause 6 committee that also includes members of AASU (the organization at the forefront of the Assam agitation) and Asom Gana Parishad.”

This led to vociferous retaliation from the opposition benches. “This is misleading. There is no need for committee for clause 6,” said Ripun Bora of the Congress, fact checking Amit Shah. But Vice President Venkaiah Naidu asked him to sit down claiming Bora was misbehaving. Naidu further ordered, “This will not go on record. Nothing should be shown.” But Bora kept drawing attention to clause 5 instead of clause 6, as it is the various provisions of clause 5 that deal with questions about the influx of foreigners. Shortly after this telecast of proceedings was suspended and the screen simply read, “Telecast of proceedings of Rajya Sabha to resume shortly.” A few minutes later, when proceedings resumed, the commotion had died down.


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