MHA-appointed committee on Assam recommends 1951 as cut-off year to define indigenous people, ILP

MHA-appointed committee on Assam recommends 1951 as cut-off year to define indigenous people, ILP

NEW DELHI: A Home Ministry-appointed committee has suggested that 1951 should be the cut-off year for outlining the indigenous people of Assam and introduction of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) to regulate the movement of individuals from outside the state, sources said on Monday.

The committee has also suggested two formulas for the reservation of seats for the indigenous people within the Assam Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies of the state, including 67 per cent quota for them.

The high-level committee was found out by the ministry to suggest ways to supply constitutional safeguards to Assam's indigenous people.

The sources said the 13-member panel, headed by Justice (Retd) Biplab Kumar Sharma, finalised its report last week, conveyed to the house ministry that it had been able to submit it to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and sought a meeting with him.

The report is predicted to be submitted in the week itself.

The committee, consistent with the sources, unanimously recommended that those that were residents of Assam in 1951 and their descendants, regardless of community, caste, language, religion or heritage, are going to be considered as indigenous people of the state.

Besides, the panel suggested that the ILP should be introduced in Assam in order that movement of individuals from outside the state might be controlled.

As per the principles , outsiders need to take permission from designated authorities before entering the areas where the ILP is applicable.

The ILP, notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, has been operational in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram for long and it had been introduced in Manipur in December 2019 following an uproar over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

In case of reservation of seats within the Assam Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies within the state, all members, except three, have suggested that 67 per cent seats should be reserved for the indigenous people.

The remaining three members suggested that the reservation in legislative bodies should be 100 per cent.

"We have mentioned that there's no dissenting note but there are two suggestions for the reservation of assembly and Lok Sabha seats," a source said.

In addition to the 67 per cent reservation for the indigenous people, 16 per cent also will be reserved for the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities.

"So, effectively, the reservation will go up to 80 per cent if it's accepted," the source said.

In the case of government jobs, the committee recommended 80 per cent reservation for the locals.

A number of other recommendations were also given for the protection and growth of Assamese and other indigenous languages.

"The committee's job is over. After its formal submission, the central government can either modify, reject or implement (the report) in toto," another source said.

The committee was found out in July 2019 as per Clause 6 of the 1985 Assam Accord.

The clause envisages constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to guard , preserve and promote cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.

On February 7, addressing a rally in Assam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said the central government will work expeditiously to implement Clause 6 once the high-powered committee submits its report.

In his speech in Rajya Sabha during the talk on the CAA, Shah had said, "In 1985, the Assam Accord happened. there's a provision in Clause 6 to guard the indigenous culture of the state. From 1985 to 2014, the committee wasn't constituted for Clause 6."

"I want to assure that the NDA government, through Clause 6, will protect rights of the people of Assam. we've constituted the committee and every one Assam Students' Union is a component of the committee. i would like them to send the report of the committee quickly," he had said.