GUWAHATI: Members of a high level committee set up by MHA to suggest measures to protect, preserve and promote cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people made the report public after accusing the state and central governments of keeping the contents, which includes the definition of who an Assamese is, under wraps for six months now.
The 14-member committee headed by retired justice of Gauhati high court, Biplab Kumar Sarma, suggested that term “Assamese People” shall be construed as any citizen of India who is a part of Assamese community, “residing in the Territory of
on or before January 1, 1951.”
The committee’s mandate was to examine the effectiveness of actions taken since 1985 to implement Clause 6 of the
, which gives “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.” In the process, the committee also had to formulate the definition of ‘Assamese people.’
The committee suggested that an Assamese is also is an member of “Any Indigenous Tribal Community of Assam residing in the Territory of Assam on or before January 1, 1951, or, Any other Indigenous Community of Assam residing in the Territory of Assam on or before January 1, 1951, or, All other citizens of India residing in the territory of Assam on or before January 1, 1951, and, descendants of the above category.”
All members of the committee except the MHA representative in the panel, the joint secretary (northeast), who is the member secretary of the panel, have signed the report. The panel was first set up by
in January , 2019 when he was the home minister and then reconstituted by his successor
in July 2019. The committee submitted its report in February last.
AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya said, “The government has been sitting on this report for six months now and so we, being a member of the committee, have decided to go public with the suggestions because people of Assam ought to know what suggestions the committee has made for their constitutional safeguards.”
in his last visit to state at Kokrajhar on February 7 had assured the people that the centre would expedite steps to protect the indigenous identity of Assamese people as soon as the committee submits report.