New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday discussed key issues of Assam — the NRC, demand for granting ST status to six communities and report of a committee set up for implementation of a vital clause of the Assam Accord, officials said.
A team of top functionaries of the Assam government, led by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, attended the two-hour-long meeting held at Shah’s residence.
This was the first major meeting the home minister attended after returning from AIIMS where he was admitted for a medical check up last week.
Issues related to Assam-specific NRC, which was rejected by the state government alleging anomalies after its final list was published last year, granting Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to six ethnic communities — Koch-Rajbongshi, Tai-Ahom, Matak, Moran, Chutia and Tea Tribes — and recommendations of Clause 6 Committee of the Assam Accord were discussed at the meeting Sunday evening, a home ministry official said.
The final National Register of Citizens (NRC) was published on August 31, 2019, by excluding 19.06 lakh people. A total of 3.11 crore names were included out of 3.30 crore applicants.
The NRC is an exercise to verify citizenship in India.
The Assam government had already rejected the much-publicised NRC as it claimed that many ineligible persons managed to include their names while genuine Indian citizens were left out from the database.
Chief Minister Sonowal had said the Supreme Court-monitored NRC would have been a correct NRC had the full responsibility of its updation been given to the state government.
The long-standing demand of the six ethnic communities of Assam for granting them ST status has been deliberated by both central and state governments for many years now, and there is a possibility of a final outcome to it by the end of this year.
Sonowal had said that both the Centre and state governments are serious in meeting the demands of various ethnic communities with regards to their reservation.
A high-level committee was set up last year for giving recommendations for implementation of the Clause 6 of the 1985 Assam Accord that came at the culmination of a six-year-long movement against illegal immigration from Bangladesh.
The Clause 6 reads, “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people .
According to the terms and conditions of the committee, “The committee will assess the appropriate level of reservation of seats in 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.
The committee, headed by Justice (Retd) B K Sharma, submitted its report to the Assam government in February.
It recommended reservation of 80 per cent seats in legislative bodies for indigenous people while suggesting the creation of an Upper House in Assam.
The report proposed January 1951 as the cut-off date for any Indian citizen residing in Assam to be defined as an Assamese for the purpose of implementing Clause 6.
The report also sought reservation in government jobs for locals and talked about issues related to land and land rights, linguistic, cultural and social rights and protection of the state’s resources and biodiversity.
However, it is to be seen how the central government is going to implement the recommendations of the committee as the Supreme Court has already put a cap of 50 per cent in the case of providing reservations in jobs and other matters.
Issues related to floods, erosion, implementation of the Bodo Accord and revival of the two sick paper mills were also discussed at the meeting, another official said.
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