Union Cabinet clears panel to promote Assam’s cultural identity

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the setting up of a high-level committee for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord which provides for constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of Assam.

It also recommended reserving Assembly seats for indigenous communities in the State.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh had assured Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in May 2018 that a committee will be set up at the earliest in consultation with the State government.

“It has been felt that Clause 6 of the Assam Accord has not been fully implemented even almost 35 years after the accord was signed. The Cabinet, therefore, approved the setting up of a high level committee to suggest constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards as envisaged in Clause 6 of the Assam Accord,” Mr. Rajnath Singh told a press conference on Wednesday.

After the Assam agitation of 1979-1985, the accord was signed on 15 August, 1985. Clause 6 envisaged that appropriate constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.

“The committee shall examine the effectiveness of actions since 1985 to implement Clause 6. It will hold discussions with all stakeholders and assess the required quantum of reservation of seats in the Assembly and local bodies for Assamese people. The committee will also assess the requirement of measures to be taken to protect Assamese and other indigenous languages of Assam, quantum of reservation in employment under Government of Assam and other measures to protect, preserve and promote cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of Assamese people,” Mr. Singh said.

The composition and terms of reference of the committee will be issued separately by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

“It is expected that the setting up of the committee will pave the way for the implementation of the Assam Accord in letter and spirit and will help fulfil the longstanding expectations of the Assamese people,” he said.

The Cabinet also approved a number of measures to fulfil the outstanding issues related to the Bodo community. The Bodo Accord was signed in 2003 which resulted in the establishment of a Bodoland Territorial Council under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India. However, there have been representations from different organisations of Bodos to fulfil various outstanding demands.

The Cabinet approved the establishment of a Bodo Museum-cum-language and cultural study center, modernisation of the existing All India Radio station and Doordarshan Kendra at Kokrajhar and naming a superfast train as Aronai Express. Relevant Ministries will take the required actions to implement these decisions. The State government will also take necessary measures related to appropriate land policy and land laws, besides setting up of institutions for research and documentation of customs, traditions and languages of indigenous communities.

A joint parliamentary committee on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 is expected to table its report in Parliament paving the way to grant citizenship to six persecuted minorities, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to India before 2014.

There has been strong resistance to the Bill in BJP- ruled Assam as it would pave the way for giving citizenship, mostly to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh in Assam who came after March 1971, in violation of the Assam Accord, 1985.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2020 4:29:10 AM |

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