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Sabhas see solution in ‘indigenous’

Suggestions offered to Clause 6 panel

By A Staff Reporter in Guwahati
  • Published 20.09.19, 12:37 AM
  • Updated 20.09.19, 12:37 AM
  • a min read
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Former chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Thursday said until the Assam Accord is amended to insert the word “indigenous” in Clause 6, there will be no fruitful outcome from the committee. Picture by UB Photos

The apex literary bodies of eight indigenous communities of Assam have suggested to the high-level committee on implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord that the term “Assamese” mentioned in the Accord should be replaced with “indigenous tribal people of Assam” and “indigenous Assamese people of Assam.”

The Indigenous Tribal Sahitya Sabha Assam, a forum of Bodo, Tiwa, Dimasa, Karbi, Mising, Deori, Rabha and Garo sahitya sabhas, submitted a memorandum to Biplab Kumar Sarma, former Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court, on Wednesday. Sarma is the chairperson of the 14-member committee formed by the Centre in July this year. The committee has been taking opinions from people on the issue.

Clause 6 envisages constitutional, legislative and administrative measures to safeguard, protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social and linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people. However, the definition of Assamese has remained inconclusive so far. Several attempts have been made to define the term but no acceptable definition could be arrived at.

Former chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Thursday said until the Assam Accord is amended to insert the word “indigenous” in Clause 6, there will be no fruitful outcome from the committee. He said his government failed to arrive at a definition as various indigenous communities refused to identify themselves as Assamese. The Gogoi-led Congress government had set up a committee of ministers in 2005 under Bhumidhar Barman to define who is an Assamese but in vain.

The literary bodies demanded that constitutional safeguard should be given to the indigenous tribes and indigenous Assamese people based on the 1951 NRC. “Those who acquired Indian citizenship between 1951 and March 25 of 1971 should not be provided any kind of constitutional safeguard under Clause 6,” the memorandum said. They also demanded protection of land rights of indigenous people and the report of Hari Shankar Brahma-headed Committee for Protection of Land Rights of Indigenous People.