Four Assam Accord panel members decline MHA offer

‘Once govt. changes, the committee’s recommendation will not mean anything’

Published - January 10, 2019 11:15 pm IST - Guwahati

A march in protest against Citizenship Bill in Guwahati.

A march in protest against Citizenship Bill in Guwahati.

Days after the Union Home Ministry set up a high-level committee to ensure implementation of clause 6 of the Assam Accord, four of those named have refused to join the nine-member panel.

Eminent literary figures Nagen Saikia and Rong Bong Terang, former Editor Dhirendra Nath Bezbaruah and the All Assam Students’ Union have declined to be part of the committee.

Bill backdrop

The refusal of the four took place at a time when Assam has been witnessing major protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, which seeks to give Indian citizenship to six minority groups from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

“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,” said Mr. Saikia.

“I think by keeping this committee in front, the government wants the Citizenship Bill to be passed,” said Mr. 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 Mr. 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.

Mr. 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 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. The Home Ministry had issued the notification constituting the committee with retired IAS officer M.P. Bezbaruah as the Chairman to ensure implementation of clause 6 of the historical Assam Accord.

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