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Bezbaruah withdraws his consent to head panel on Assam Accord



India January 12(IM): Former Tourism Secretary M.P. Bezbaruah, who was named to head a High Level Committee on how to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, has withdrawn his consent to head the committee.

A source confirmed to The Hindu that Mr. Bezbaruah has written to the Union Home Ministry informing of his decision. At least, three other members have declined to be part of the Committee and the All Assam Students' Union (AASU), one of the original signatories to the Assam Accord , too has refused, the source said.

Under these circumstances, Mr. Bezbaruah is learnt to have conveyed to the Home Ministry, that the High Level Committee would be defunct" and his position, as such, has become untenable.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, while moving the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha last Tuesday, had informed that the nine-member High Level Committee would look at ways of safeguarding the interests of ethnic Assamese.

Clause 6 of the Assam Accord deals with the aspect of protecting the culture of the indigenous people in Assam.

Protests over Citizenship Amendment Bill

Protests have erupted across Assam over the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill that seeks to grant citizenship rights to Hindus from Bangladesh, who had entered and settled Assam by December 31, 2014.

The Assam Accord, a tripartite agreement signed in 1985 between the Centre, the State government and AASU, had set March 25,1971 as the cut off date to grant citizenship to people who had migrated from Bangladesh.

Right now, under directions of the Supreme Court, the National Register of Citizenship (NRC) is being updated in Assam to determine the number of people who have entered after the March 1971 cutting off date.

Though the draft NRC puts the figure of such "outsiders" at 4 million, many have filed their claims and objections tk be included as genuine citizens in the final NRC.

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