Call to reserve 21 Assam Assembly seats for indigenous groups

Many of them have been affected by the Assam Accord, says panel

Published - August 05, 2019 02:00 am IST - GUWAHATI

A coordination committee of the indigenous groups in Assam has demanded the reservation of 21 “immigrants-controlled” Assembly seats for indigenous communities.

It also sought the formation of a Legislative Council to let numerically weaker communities be represented in the 126-member Assembly.

“Many indigenous groups have been affected by the Assam Accord that settled for March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for detecting illegal migrants instead of 1951. But we can somewhat undo the damage by insisting on 1951 as the basis for ensuring the constitutional rights of the Assamese and other indigenous groups via the implementation of Clause 6 of the accord,” said Syed Muminul Awal, leader of the Janagosthiya Samannwoy Parishad, Assam.

The Parishad is an umbrella body of 21 organisations representing indigenous communities, including the Assamese Muslims who distinguish themselves from the Bengal-origin migrant Muslims.

Hifazul Haque, Parishad’s coordinator, said the Assam Accord had legitimised the stay of more than 50 lakh migrants from East Pakistan and Bangladesh between 1951 and 1971.

“The migrants now control 21 Assembly constituencies such as Lahorighat, Dhubri, Goalpara and Baghbor. Clause 6 should be wielded in a manner that these Assembly seats are reserved for indigenous communities who do not have the number to contest elections,” a spokesperson of the organisation said.

The Centre had in July constituted a 13-member committee to look into the pros and cons of implementing Clause 6 that seeks to guarantee constitutional safeguards for the Assamese people. Two more, including the lone tribal, were included in the panel later.

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