No dilution of Assam Accord, says Rajnath

 NEW DELHI, April 26 – Twelve years after the last review meeting and 31 years after the signing of the Assam Accord, the tripartite talks among the Central Government, Assam Government and All Assam Students Union (AASU) today agreed to implement various clauses within a specific time-frame without diluting the spirit of the Accord.

As part of its fresh initiative, the Centre after a long gap has started the exercise of engaging with various agitating groups. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today chaired two separate rounds of talks with the AASU and All Bodo Students Union (ABSU). Also present at the meetings were Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, his Cabinet colleague Chandra Mohan Patowary and Union Home Secretary Rajeev Mehrishi, besides top officials of the Central and Assam governments.

The AASU was represented by its adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya, president Dipanka Nath, general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi and educationist Basanta Deka. The AASU leaders said they were satisfied with the outcome of the talks where 90 issues involving the Assam Accord were raised, demanding its implementation within a specific time-frame. The next round of talks will be held after two months to take stock of the progress.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured the AASU representatives that the spirit of the Assam Accord would not be allowed to get diluted at any cost. The Union minister, who has been closely monitoring the implementation of the Accord, stated that the Government of India and the Government of Assam are committed to a flawless NRC update exercise in Assam and to provide constitutional and economic safeguard to the indigenous people.

Singh further informed that a committee with representatives from the Government of India, Government of Assam and AASU will be formed to ensure time-bound implementation of all clauses of the Accord. “All issues raised by AASU will be discussed in detail and implemented in a time-bound manner. We are also mulling the option for a second line of defence along the border for strengthening border security and checking infiltration. Besides, erection of fencing along the Indo-Bangla border has already begun,” Singh said.

The Union Home Minister also stated that the construction work of Bogibeel bridge would be completed within December, 2017.

Emerging from the talks, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal told newsmen that they have discussed clause-wise implementation of the Assam Accord. “Every clause of the Accord will be implemented within a specific time-frame,” he added.

AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya said the Centre and State Government officials will hold discussion to work out a time-frame for clause-wise implementation of the Accord. The joint committee will present their report at the tripartite review meeting proposed to be held after two months, he said.

The meet also agreed to form task forces to detect illegal Bangladeshis and plans were also firmed up to form a second line of defence comprising local youths. The AASU demanded shoot-at-sight order along the Indo-Bangladesh border and suggested a bilateral agreement between the governments of India and Bangladesh for deportation of the illegal immigrants, Bhattacharya said.

Further, two separate nine-member committees comprising three members each from the AASU, Assam Government and Centre will be formed to examine the implementation of Clause 6 and Clause 7 of the Assam Accord. The two committees would work out a time-frame and fine-tune the implementation of the two clauses that involves constitutional safeguard of the indigenous people and allround economic development of the people of the State, respectively.

The AASU also demanded scrapping of the Section 3 (1) (a) (b) of the Citizenship Act concerning children born to illegal migrants. It also demanded scrapping of the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 while making it clear that they are not willing to take the burden of any additional population after the cut-off date.

The student body also demanded setting up of six institutes, including Indian Institute of Management, Indian Institute of Science and Education Research, Drug Research and Discovery Institute, Institute of Biodiversity of Assam and Rural Development University.

Revival of Ashok Paper Mill, tackling the recurrent flood and erosion problem, protection of river island Majuli from the fury of the Brahmaputra, revamping the Brahmaputra Board were some of the other issues that came up during the discussions.

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