Who Is An ‘Assamese’? – Clause 6 of Assam Accord

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What has happened?

In February 2020, the Union Home Ministry had appointed a ‘high-level-committee’ (headed by retired Justice Biplab Sarma) to submit its recommendations of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. The panel had submitted its report to the Assam state government in the same month.

On 11 August 2020, a few members of the panel – Arunachal Pradesh Advocate General Nilay Dutta and three members of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) - independently released the confidential the report, amidst complaints that the government was not taking any actions on the report.

Assam Accord and Clause 6

To give you some context, Assam Accord is a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Indian government and Assamese nationalist groups after the Assam Movement in the year 1985.

According to Clause 6 of Assam Accord, “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as maybe appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.”

Furthermore, as per the Assam Accord, those who came to Assam on or before 24 March 1971 are classified as Indian citizens.

Recommendations of the Committee

However, as per the recommendations from the committee, ‘Assamese people’ have been defined as those who have been residing in Assam on or before 01 January 1951.

The safeguards which have been recommended for the people qualify under the mentioned cut off date include 80-100% reservation in parliamentary and assembly seats, jobs in central government posts, jobs in Assam state governments and private partnerships, and exclusive land rights.


The cut-off date of 01 January 1951 would create a peculiar situation for its citizens. If the recommendations concerning Clause 6 are implemented, those who came to Assam between 1951 and 1971 would be stuck in a limbo – Indian citizens but not ‘Assamese’.

Furthermore, in order to ascertain who came to Assam in or before 1951, the state authorities would be required to undertake an exercise similar to NRC, which would involve substantial financial costs, paperwork verifications, and misery for the common people.

In case the state government does not decide to undertake another round of verification, it would need to rely on historical data, which is more than likely to present a distorted picture.

Written by - Snehil Kesarwani

Edited by - Chhavi Gupta


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