A high-level committee, set up by the Home Ministry to suggest ways for providing constitutional safeguards to the indigenous people of Assam, has been given a one-month extension to submit its report.
This comes two days after a four-member delegation of the committee, headed by Justice (Retd) Biplab Kumar Sharma, met Home Minister Amit Shah and briefed him about the progress of its work.
According to a notification issued by the Home Ministry, the committee has been given an additional month to submit its report, from six months earlier to seven months now. The committee was set up in mid-July last year.
Officials said when the delegation of the committee met the home minister, they sought 15 more days to submit the panel’s report. After their meeting with Shah, Justice (Retd) Sharma had said, “We have apprised the home minister about the progress of our work. The home minister has given a few suggestions. We hope to submit our final report within the next 15 days”.
The committee, with more than a dozen members, was set up as per Clause 6 of the 1985 Assam Accord. According to its terms and conditions, “The committee will assess the appropriate level of reservation of seats in the Assam Legislative Assembly and local bodies for the Assamese people.”
“The committee will recommend the appropriate level of reservations in employment under the government of Assam for the Assamese people,” according to a Home Ministry notification.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had met the home minister last week and discussed with him various aspects of the Assam Accord’s Clause 6, under which the central government had promised to provide constitutional safeguards to the indigenous people. The committee is said to have completed its deliberations and discussions with various stakeholders in Assam. Assam has been witnessing widespread protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). There has been a growing feeling among the indigenous people of Assam that the newly-enacted legislation will hurt their interests both politically, culturally as well as socially, sources said.
The Assam Accord provides for the detection and deportation of all illegal immigrants, who have entered the country after 1971 and living in the state, irrespective of their religion. According to the CAA, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship. The protesters in Assam said that the CAA violates the provisions of the Assam Accord.