Himanta counters AASU on ‘Assamese’ under Clause 6 of Accord

“Centre can act only after Assam Assembly ratifies definition”

GUWAHATI: Assam Cabinet minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday said that the definition of “Assamese” recommended by the committee on Clause 6 of the Assam Accord would have to be ratified by the Assam Assembly first for the Centre to take any action on its implementation.

Addressing reporters here on Wednesday, Sarma, in a riposte to the All Assam Students’ Union’s release of the committee’s confidential report at a media conference here on Tuesday, said that the Centre has no role till the definition as to “who is an Assamese” was decided on the floor of the state Assembly and ratified by the House.

“Once the Assembly ratifies the definition of Assamese, the central government can take over. As it is, the Centre has already started work, having constituted a delimitation commission (for delimitation of constituencies) and taken preliminary steps on the report,” he added.

The minister pointed out that the committee clearly mentioned in its report that there were complex recommendations which have to be scrutinised by a high-level three-member panel later and that the implementation period of the Clause 6 recommendations was two years.

Sarma further questioned the committee as to whether there would be another National Register of Citizens based on 1951 as the cut-off year, as the definition of ‘Assamese’ as recommended by the panel members linked citizenship to 1951 as the cut-off year.

“The students union has vented ire against the government’s silence on the committee’s recommendations for over five months now. But the committee is silent in regard to what document an Assamese citizen would have to furnish to prove his/her citizenship if at all the recommended cut-off year is to be taken,” he said.

The minister said that a cautious approach on the part of the students union would have helped avoided controversy on the issue. “But by releasing the Clause 6 report prematurely, AASU has only complicated matters,” he said.

Asked about the questions raised by AASU on the government’s intent, the minister said that the students union “was about to be a political party now” and that it was common for parties to take digs at each other before elections.

“But we do not want to debate on the allegation that the government has been sitting on it for over five months now. But we can say that we are on track and want to reiterate that the state government is committed to implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord,” the minister said.

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