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CM Sonowal Slams AASU for Making Confidential Report on Clause 6 of Assam Accord Public

File photo of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

File photo of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

Assuring that the state government is committed to implement the said provision of the 1985 agreement, Sonowal said the BJP-led government will not do anything that will harm the interests of people.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday termed as "unfortunate" the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) making public the confidential report on Clause 6 of Assam Accord by the Centre's high-level committee.

Assuring that the state government is committed to implement the said provision of the 1985 agreement, Sonowal in a statement said, the BJP-led government will not do anything that will harm the interests of the people.

As per Clause 6, Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the culture, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.

The bone of contention since the signing of the pact on August 15, 1985 has been the definition of Assamese people, which the committee tried to fix as the tribal, indigenous and all other Indian citizens residing within the territory of Assam as per the First Schedule of the Constitution on or before January 1, 1951 along with their descendants.

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On February 25, the high-level committee on the implementation of clause 6 had submitted the report to the chief minister for handing it over to Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

The report sought to implement the Assam Accord in letter and spirit, and also asked the government for prompt measures to seal the India-Bangladesh border.

Acknowledging the receipt of the report in February, Sonowal said, the coronavirus pandemic has been stalling the day-to-day affairs of people worldwide since then due to nationwide lockdown and subsequent restrictions.

"Even though the state government is battling against flood, erosion, landslides, storm, African swine fever,Baghjan gas well fire etc along with COVID-19 today, the government continues its efforts sincerely to implement Clause 6 of the agreement.

"Simultaneously the Central government is also taking steps in this regard. Therefore, without giving a definite timeframe, disclosing the report of the committee is very unfortunate," the chief minister stated.

The Assam government from the beginning has been taking steps for safeguarding the interests of the people through consultation and suggestion and it will "not do anything keeping the people in the dark", he added.

Without specifying, Sonowal said, "Certain political forces in the state do not wish the implementation of the Accord to take place. However, the present state government sincerely desires its implementation."

The BJP-led state government would not let the sacrifices of the martyrs of Assam movement go in vain and that is why the centre formed a high level committee headed by retired justice Biplob Kumar Sarma, the chief minister added.

In a surprising move, the AASU, which was a part of the centre's high-level committee on clause 6 of Assam Accord, on Tuesday released the report saying that the public has the right to know the contents after more than five months of submitting it officially.

The AASU and another committee member Nilay Dutta, who is the advocate general of Arunachal Pradesh, addressed a joint press conference and said they were releasing it only because the "government is just sitting idle".

Sonowal also blamed AASU for breakdown of the earlier committee in January last year as AASU had backed out from it after the Centre had introduced the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Lok Sabha.

"The AASU leadership did not respond to the central government's move. Though the government took oral consent from all the members prior to the constitution of the committee, several members resigned from the committee and asa result the entire process got stuck," he added.

The Union Home Ministry had formed the committee headed by retired Union secretary MP Bezbaruah, but six of the nine members declined to be part of it, following which the panel was reconstituted on July 16, 2019 with 14 members and Justice BK Sharma as its chairman.

Earlier, another high-level committee with bureaucrat GK Pillai as the chief was constituted for Assam Accord implementation when the NDA headed by former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was in power at the centre, but not much progress was made by it.

first published:August 11, 2020, 22:11 IST