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Central panel recommends 2/3rd quota for indigenous people in Assam Assembly

NEW DELHI, FEB 18:

A Home Ministry-appointed committee has recommended that two-third seats in the Assam Assembly should be reserved for the indigenous people of the state and 1951 should be the cut-off year to define the local population, sources said on Monday.

The committee has also suggested creation of a legislative council (Upper House) for Assam and introduction of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) to control the movement of people from outside the state, they said.

For the reservation of seats for indigenous people in Assam Assembly, the 13-member panel has recommended two formulas, including a quota of two-third seats (67 per cent) for them.

In case of reservation of seats in the Assam Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies from 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 is 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 will also be reserved for the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities.

"So, effectively, the reservation will go up to 83 per cent if it is accepted," the source said.

Assam has a total of 126 Assembly constituencies, while it sends 14 MPs to Lok Sabha.

The high-level committee, headed by Justice (Retd) Biplab Kumar Sharma, was set up by the home ministry to suggest ways to provide constitutional safeguards to Assam's indigenous people.

The sources said the panel finalised its report last week, conveyed to the home ministry that it was ready to submit it to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and has sought an appointment with him.

The report is expected to be submitted this week itself.

The committee, according to the sources, unanimously recommended that those who were residents of Assam in 1951 and their descendants, irrespective of community, caste, language, religion or heritage, will be considered as indigenous people of the state.

Besides, the panel suggested that the ILP should be introduced in Assam so that movement of people from outside the state could be controlled.

As per the rules, outsiders have 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 in operation in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram for long and it was introduced in Manipur in

December 2019 following an uproar over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

In case of state 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 set up in July 2019 as per the Clause 6 of the 1985 Assam Accord.

The clause envisages constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, 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.

After its formal submission, the central government can either modify, reject or implement (the report) in toto," another source said.

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

The clause envisages constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, 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. (Agencies)

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