Four of the nine members of the high-level committee formed by the Centre to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord have declined to be a part of it.
Eminent litterateurs Nagen Saikia and Rongbong Terang, both former presidents of premier literary body Axom Xahitya Xabha, and academician Mukunda Rajbongshi have decided to opt out of the committee.
The All Assam Students Union (AASU), a signatory of the Assam Accord and which has a representative in the panel, has already said it would not be a part of the committee which would examine the effectiveness of actions since 1985 to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.
Clause 6 seeks to provide constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
A six-year agitation by the AASU demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord by the Rajiv Gandhi government and the AASU on August 15, 1985.
In a letter to the Joint Secretary (North East) of the Ministry of Home Affairs, member secretary of the panel Saikia said the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was against the secular spirit of the country and Assam would lose its linguistic and cultural identity if it is enacted.
The committee has been set up "to appease the people of Assam. I oppose this stand of the government", he said.
Saikia, a Sahitya Akademi awardee, also said the AASU has already announced it would be not be a part of the panel and without it, the committee "cannot arrive at decisions for which it has been constituted".
Padma Shri awardee Terang also declined to be a part of the committee saying there is no sense in talking about the Assam Accord without the AASU being a part of it.
"My conscience does not allow me to be a part of the committee. Besides, I am suffering from cancer and will not be able to attend meetings of the committee regularly," he said.
Rajbongshi, who is undergoing treatment in New Delhi, said the formation of the committee by the Centre while going ahead with the citizenship bill is a mockery of the Assam Accord.
"The bill has raised many questions on the Centre's intention to protect the interest of the indigenous population and has nullified the provisions of the Assam Accord. In such circumstances, it will not be possible for me to be a part of this committee," he added.
Earlier, the AASU has refused to be a part of the panel which the "BJP-led government formed just three months ahead of Lok Sabha polls to seek votes in Assam".
Besides these four, the panel has former Union Tourism Secretary M P Bezbaruah as its head, and former IAS officer Subhash Das, senior journalist D N Bezboruah and Advocate General of Assam Ramesh Borpatragohain as other members.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)