Conflict Alerts # 29, 19 February 2020
In the news
The high-powered committee constituted to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord has completed its report and is awaiting the Home Minister’s response now.
The report was finalized on 17 February 2020. According to the committee, they have recommended that 1951 must be the cut-off year to define the indigenous people of Assam. It also suggested the introduction of Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Assam to curb the influx of migrants outside the state.
Issues at large
The committee was constituted by the Home Ministry and is led by Justice (retired) Biplab Sharma. It was formed in July 2019 and was given six months to complete its report.
The primary issues are the following: first, the problem of National Register for Citizens (NRC) persists as the Home Ministry is unhappy with the outcome. They want another exercise to define the “indigenous” people so that the illegal immigrants can be sorted out from the indigenous population.
Second, the Assamese are still protesting, in a democratic manner, against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as they fear of losing their cultural and political identity along with opportunities of job and services.
Third, the term “indigenous” is sensitive to describe the people of Assam. Because of the exclusion of many from the NRC as they were not able to produce official documents of their land rights, around 19 lakh Assamese who claim their nativity are in a phase of uncertainty.
First, the report clarifies that Assam will not be exempted from the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), but the indigenous people will have their political and land rights protected. It will only be effective if seat reservations are acknowledged and restrictions on land transfer introduced.
Second, senior officials accept that the implementation of ILP will affect the economy as trade and businesses will suffer. At the same time, they understand the importance of border protection and are hopeful that they would be able to implement the vigilance strictly.
Third, this report may not see the light of the day if the government finds it unnecessary to place it in front of the Parliament. If it is accepted, then it would affect the lives of many. The non-acceptability of the report is highly probable.