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Bezbaruah Refuses to Lead Govt Panel on Assam Accord Amid Protests Over Citizenship Bill

Speaking to News18, Bezbaruah said he has not resigned, but has informed the Centre about the futility of the system, implying his wish to discontinue as chairman.

Karishma Hasnat | CNN-News18

Updated:January 12, 2019, 8:25 PM IST
Bezbaruah Refuses to Lead Govt Panel on Assam Accord Amid Protests Over Citizenship Bill
Organisations across Assam have been protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
Guwahati: Madan Prasad Bezbaruah, who was appointed as the chairman of the high-level committee by the Centre for implementing Clause 6 of Assam Accord, has declined to lead it, stating that the ‘position of chairman has now become irrelevant’.

Bezbaruah is the fifth member to withdraw his name, leaving the committee in lurch. Speaking to CNN-News18, Bezbaruah said he has not resigned, but has informed Centre about the futility of the system.

“I have written to the Centre apprising them of the irrelevance of the position offered to me. I am not resigning, but it implies that as the committee cannot meet, there is no need for me to stay,” said Bezbaruah.

He said when he was asked to lead the panel, he hoped it would lead to the implementation of Assam Accord, but if the committee is not accepted by the people of Assam, he cannot be a part of it.

“Most of the members, who are respected personalities of Assam, have already quit. Now that it has become almost dysfunctional, I have no reason to stay,” he added.

Earlier, former presidents of Sahitya Sabha Nagen Saikia and Rongbong Terang stepped down from the committee. “I have never done anything, or participated in any issue that would hurt the sentiments of people of Assam,” said Saikia.

Padma Shri awardee Terang said he was not ready to shoulder such a big responsibility with his limited knowledge on Assam Accord. “I have no special knowledge on Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, or Assam Accord per se. I wonder why they have entrusted me with such a heavy responsibility.”

Educationist Mukunda Rajbongshi also withdrew his name, while the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) refused to send any representative to the Committee.

“The members of the committee have taken the right decision. They have realised the ineffectiveness of it all. The government has betrayed our people. They have violated Clause 5 of the Assam Accord and jumped to Clause 6. By imposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the government has also violated the directives of Supreme Court monitoring the entire NRC exercise based on Assam Accord, the cut-off date being March 25, 1971,” said Lurin Jyoti Gogoi, AASU General Secretary.

However, Dhiren Bezbaruah, founder-editor of The Sentinel newspaper has decided to continue as a panel member, though he made his stand clear on the Bill.

“It is just a way to expand the vote bank. It then becomes easy for the ruling party to come back to power, and it’s unfortunate that everyone desires power without performance,” said D Bezbaruah.

Meanwhile, protests continued across Assam and Northeast against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, with students raising slogans against the BJP government.

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