Has saffron brigade wrong foot forward over Clause 6 report?

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State BJP top brass posing as ‘law unto itself’

By: Tahind Rahanee

Finally, with public patience running out, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) took the Assam government as well as the Centre by storm when it made the report prepared by the so-called high-level committee headed by Gauhati High Justice (Retired) Biplab Kr Sarma formed by the Centre in association with the Assam government on Clause 6 of the Assam Accord for needful recommendations for due implementation by the government.

It may be pertinent to state at this juncture that the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord provides for Constitutional Safeguards to the ‘Assamese people’ in the face of non-stop onslaught on Assam by crores of illegal migrants, both Hindus and Muslims, from neighbouring Bangladesh. The very objective of the historic Assam Movement against foreigners was 3 Ds – detection of the illegal migrants, deletion of their names from the voters’ list and finally their deportation out of Assam.

Unfortunately, for around three-and-a-half decades New Delhi indulged in dillying-dallying over the issue. Finally, on the eve of the Lok Sabha  polls in 2019 after being in power at the Centre for five years, the Central BJP leadership woke up and included the subject in its list of priorities if returned to power for a second term. Indeed it was a clever poly on the people of Assam to catch the imagination in the run-up to the polls.

Accordingly, on having captured the citadel of power at the Centre, the high-level committee was formed to make recommendations on Clause 6 for its due implementation. While the report was submitted to the Union Home Minister through the Assam government after a lot of hiccups, for five long months the Centre and the Assam government maintained a stony silence over the report although there have been pressures from various quarters to place the report in the public domain.  The AASU leaders have also claimed that they were unaware if Dispur has handed over the report to the Union Home Minister or not. However, over the last five months both Delhi and Dispur continued to maintain its ‘mauna brat’ (ritual of silence) over the report.

Finally, the AASU broke the sinister silence maintained by Delhi and Dispur by making the report public at a press meet in Guwahati on August 11. Significantly, over the last few months, the rumour mills and the grapevines have been agog with the recommendation made by the committee in respect of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.

So far as Clause 6 is concerned, the bone of contention has always been the definition of ‘Assamese people’ for the purpose of granting Constitutional Safeguards’ as enunciated in the Assam Accord.  The definition of ‘Assamese people’ as recommended by the committee on Clause 6 includes all indigenous people of Assam who were residents of the state in 1951 and their descendents. The definition also includes people from other states of India who were living in the state in 1951. With CAA being at the top slot in the BJP’s agenda and millions of illegal Hindu Bangladeshi immigrants being the blue-eyed boys of the saffron brigade for all elections to come, the definition as recommended by the committee apparently appears to be an eye sore for the ruling dispensation.

Secondly, the Centre with all support extended by the state government has been doing everything possible, including resorting to ordinance to keep Assam out of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system for easy and undisturbed implementation of CAA, if necessary by hook or by crook, for favour of ‘jati, mati & bheti’ and ‘roti, kapda aur maakan’ for the would-be Hindu Bangladeshi vote-bank.

However, to the utter displeasure of the of the saffron brigade armed with the Hindutva agenda, the recommendations made by the committee for implementation of the ILP system in Assam in every possibility may sound like a death knell to their all important CAA roadmap with the greater intention of transforming India from a secular nation to a Hindu nation. The writing may very well be on the wall that by all possible means the Centre along with the state government is likely go to such massive constitutional/extra-constitutional exercise like the mythological churning of the sea to keep Assam out of the ambit of the ILP system. After all, it is almost a settled roadmap by the Centre and the state government that tens of millions of illegal Hindu Bangladeshi nationals to be granted Indian citizenship would be settled in Assam.

Meanwhile, it is obnoxious to witness some BJP heavyweights trying to become a ‘law unto themselves’ after the AASU made the Clause 6 committee report public.  Out of nowhere, a state heavyweight has gone to the extent of stating that the definition of ‘Assamese people’ has to be ratified by the Assam Assembly. May one ask that heavyweight to cite the law or the constitutional provision in support of his stand. The statement by the BJP big wig only reflects the soaring frustration building up in the saffron camp after being caught on the wrong foot in the wake of the Clause 6 committee report having become public.

While on account of space constraint several other important aspect and recommendations made by the committee in respect of Clause 6 may have to be overlooked for the time being, the past precedents in the matter of dealing with relatively peaceful protest against CAA and the Centre’s well calculated roadmap of making Assam the homeland of hoards of illegal Hindu Bangladeshi nationals, the sinister design of turning a blind eye to the report for five long months despite Union Home Minister’s announcement that the report on Clause 6  would be implemented immediately on the receipt of the same and the like, makes an observer feel that the  report has already assumed the status of a waste paper.

While the Centre’s lack of response to the report has made its motive and intention clear as daylight, going into litigation(s) is definitely a surer way to keep the report at bay for years and decades together. Again in such contests, both political and legal, at times it is extremely difficult as to who is on which side. However, one aspect is certain that any legal or political battle in respect of Clause 6 may be a long one. Will the legal maxim ‘Justice delayed is Justice denied’, finally come into operation? Be that as it may, the report on Clause 6 is certain to figure prominently in the 2021 Assam Assembly election campaign.

As of now, in the wake of the report being in public domain, the saffron brigade seems to be on rough terrain. However, election is a totally different class of game in India with man power, muscle power, money power, gun power and the like calling effective shots. It would be interesting to watch as to how the indigenous people react to the imbroglio made more and more complicated by the ruling dispensation. The fight for a dignified existence in the light of the Clause 6 report while squarely confronting the CAA in the struggle for survival may emerge as another battle in the chain of battles of Saraighat that seems to be in store in the days, years and decades to come for the indigenous people of Assam.

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