MP Bezbaruah quits Assam Accord implementation panel

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MHA panel on clause 6 implementation defunct

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Jan 12: Former Union tourism secretary Madan Prasad Bezbaruah, who was appointed as the head of a government nominated committee to assess the quantum of seats to be reserved in the Assam Assembly for the Assamese, has declined the offer.

Bezbaruah is the sixth member of the high-level panel who has refused to be a part of the committee, which will also assess the quantum of seats to be reserved in the local bodies in the state for Assamese people besides providing other safeguards.

“I have conveyed to the Union Home ministry that it is untenable for me to continue in the committee when the representatives of the civil society refused to be part of the committee. Being head of a committee, without civil society members, does not make any sense,” Bezbaruah told a local news channel.

“When I was asked to be a part of the panel, I was under the impression that we can make some contributions in implementing Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. But since then certain developments have taken place and I find no reason to continue in the committee,” he said.

“The committee was for the people of Assam and if they think there is no need for it, there is no point in continuing with it,” Bezbaruah said.

“Moreover, the AASU and three other respected members have decided not to be a part of the committee and as such it has become dysfunctional … The committee has not been accepted by the people and I also do not find any justification to continue,” he said.

Earlier, two former presidents of Asam Sahitya Sabha, Dr Nagen Saikia and Rongbong Terang, educationist Mukunda Rajbangshi, senior journalist Dhirendra Nath Bezbaruah  and a nominee of the influential All Assam Students’ Union (AASU).

The members had refused to be part of the committee, formed on January 6 under Clause 6 of the 1985 Assam Accord, to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which they said posed a threat to Assamese culture and identity.

Others nominated to be a part of the panel included former IAS officer Subhash Das and advocate general of Assam Ramesh Borpatragohain.

MHA joint secretary (Northeast) was nominated as the member secretary of the panel. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, already passed by the Lok Sabha, seeks to grant Indian citizenship to people belonging to minority communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12, even if they don’t possess any proper document.

The facility is available for those who had entered India till December 31, 2014.

It was an election promise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014.

The Assam Accord provides for deportation of anyone, irrespective of religion, who had come to the state after March 24, 1971.


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