MHA-appointed panel on Assam recommends 1951 as cut-off year to define indigenous people

NEW DELHI, Feb 17: A home ministry-appointed committee on Assam has recommended that 1951 should be the cut-off year to define the local population of Assam, sources said on Monday.
The committee, according to the sources, unanimously recommended that those who were residents of Assam in 1951 and their descendants, irrespective of community, caste, language, religion or heritage, will be considered as indigenous people of the state.
The committee has suggested introducing the inner line permit (ILP) system in Assam to control the movement of people from outside the state, and creation of a legislative council (upper house) for Assam, they said.
In case of state government jobs, the committee recommended 80 percent reservation for the locals.
It has also recommended that two-third seats in the Assam assembly should be reserved for the indigenous people of the state.
Assam has a total of 126 assembly constituencies, while it sends 14 MPs to Lok Sabha.
A number of other recommendations were also given for the protection and growth of Assamese and other indigenous languages.
The high-level committee, headed by retired justice Biplab Kumar Sharma, was set up by the home ministry to suggest ways to provide constitutional safeguards to Assam’s indigenous people.
The sources said the panel finalized its report last week, conveyed it to the home ministry that it is ready to submit it to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and has sought an appointment with him.
The report is expected to be submitted this week itself.
The committee was set up in July 2019 as per Clause 6 of the 1985 Assam Accord. The clause envisages constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social and linguistic identity and the heritage of the Assamese people.
On 7 February, addressing a rally in Assam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the central government would work expeditiously to implement Clause 6 once the high-powered committee submits its report.
In his speech in Rajya Sabha during a debate on the CAA, Shah had said, “In 1985, the Assam Accord happened. There is a provision in Clause 6 to protect the indigenous culture of the state. From 1985 to 2014, the committee was not constituted for Clause 6.”
“I want to assure that the NDA government, through Clause 6, will protect rights of the people of Assam. We have constituted the committee and All Assam Students’ Union is part of the committee. I want them to send the report of the committee quickly,” he had said. (PTI)