The Centre Wednesday decided to set up a high-level committee to recommend how to provide constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to the indigenous people of Assam, including by reserving seats in the state Assembly.
Addressing a press conference, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the decision has been taken according to the Assam Accord signed in 1985 which envisaged that appropriate constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
"The committee will hold discussions with all stakeholders and assess the required quantum of reservation of seats in Assam Legislative Assembly and local bodies for Assamese people," he said.
The home minister said the panel will also assess the requirement of measures to be taken to protect Assamese and other indigenous languages of the state, quantum of reservation in employment under the Government of Assam and other measures to protect, preserve and promote cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of Assamese people.
"It was a very significant decision for the promotion and protection of cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of Assamese people," he said.
Singh said it has been felt that Clause six of the Assam Accord, which provides for protection of the rights of indigenous people of the state, has not been fully implemented even almost 35 years after the Accord was signed.
"The Union cabinet, therefore, approved the setting up of a high-level committee to suggest constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards as envisaged in Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. The committee shall examine the effectiveness of actions since 1985 to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord," he said.
The home minister said the terms of reference and composition of the committee will be announced within the next few days.
"The composition and terms of reference of the committee will be issued separately by the Ministry of Home Affairs. It is expected that the setting up of the committee will pave the way for the implementation of the Assam Accord in letter and spirit and will help fulfil longstanding expectations of the Assamese people," Singh said.