Among various other aspects, ethnology pertains to the study of human races and such other matters related thereto. For a proper comprehension of the growth and development of culture, custom, tradition, folklore, religious practices, cults languages and dialects and such other factors and the blending of the same into a cohorent whole through the process of naturalisation and assimilation, involving centuries, an extensive study on ethnology, anthropology, sociology and the like is highly essential.
These subjects do not respect any cut-off year in the determination of a race, tribe or a community or allied factors like the indigenousness of the members of a community.
Subjects like ethnology or anthropology have nothing to do with the making or breaking of constitution(s) of nation(s) or anything related to abrogation or perversion of constitution(s) and various factors that are integral parts of these subjects are in no way related to any ideology or political perversions grotesquely imposed upon humankind by power hungry political force(s) of the fascist kind.
The primary motive of these force(s) is to add their branded hue to even issues pertaining to ethnology, ethnicity, indigenousness, nativity et al which indeed are loaded with anthropological, ethnological and sociological elements.
The historic Assam Movement against foreigners (mainly Bangladeshis, both Hindus and Muslims) focused on deportation of all foreigners from the state in view of the fact that non-stop migration of Bangladeshis in tens of millions to Assam was posing the grave threat to the very identity of the Assamese people in their home state.
Accordingly, Clause 6 was included in the Assam Accord to provide constitutional safeguards to the Assamese people (indigenous people) of the state in an attempt to protect and preserve the identity of the natives from being trampled by millions of Hindu and Muslim Bangladeshis.
Since 1986, successive governments in Assam, irrespective of party(ies) in power, stashed up the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord in the cold storage. Finally, in its bid to downplay the Hindu Bangladeshi and Constitution amendment issues and with the 2019 Lok Sabha election barely a few months away, the Union Cabinet took the decision to implement the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.
The so called high-level committee headed by Justice (Retd) Biplab Sarma that was formed to study all aspects related to Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and submit recommendations in regard to the implementation of the clause, was by all accounts a purely government committee, with the Centre (MHA) having the final say.
Accordingly, the committee never worked as an independent committee and never sought opinions from the public by way of organising hearings after due public notifications. It worked like a government department preparing a report on an issue of public interest with advice, suggestions, guidelines et al furnished by the government in the preparation of the report.
Hence, the high-ups of the committee rushed to Delhi umpteen number of times to seek the views and advice of the Home Minister/Ministry and the Attorney General to carry out the committee’s function of preparing its report in respect of recommendations and implementation of Clause 6.
The Oxford Dictionary has furnished the word ‘native’ as equivalent to ‘indigenous’. So far as the noun form is concerned, The Thesaurus equates ‘indigenousness’ with ‘nativity’, ‘nativeness’, ‘innateness’ etc. Thus it is clear that ‘indigenous’ or ‘indigenousness’ is a sweet product of the native soil. Accordingly, in the case of human beings, nativity or indigenousness of a person is directly related to the native soil. Hence, he/she is often referred to as the son/daughter of the soil.
Meanwhile, if media reports are anything to go by, the so called high-level committee on Clause 6 has recommended in its report the year 1951 as the cut-off year to determine the indigenousness of a resident of Assam in its quest to define ‘Assamese people’.
If it is so, it is highly absurd and at best can be described as perversity at its worst form. It clearly amounts to massive bombardment of the very edifice of the socio-cultural ethos of the Assamese people so painstakingly fabricated by Sankardeva over five centuries ago.
Still worse, the grapevine musings have it that even the framework of 1951 as the cut-off year is highly embarrassing and unacceptable to the Centre. Rumour mills are rife that in order to further add to its armoury of the Hindutva agenda, which indeed is the nodal agenda of the saffron brigade, the government at the Centre would like to opt for some cut-off year that would put even the Assam Accord cut-off year of 1971 to shame in determining the definition of ‘Assamese people’.
Considering, the Centre’s CAA trump card which sets in motion the all important agenda of the Sangha Pariwar of lavishly granting ‘jati, mati & bheti’ and extraordinary status to Hindu Bangladeshis in astronomical figures in Assam, sinister perversion of issues related to the science of anthropology, anthropogeny or ethnology like indigenousness or nativity under the iron fist of fascism may not be surprising.
In the fitness of things, issues like nativity/indigenousness that has its roots going down for centuries in the realm of anthropology and sociology need to be researched upon extensively by experts on the subject(s) before a justified framework can be worked out.
Unfortunately, what we see today is that political power house in line with the ruling party ideology is at the task of defining indigenous/Assamese people with a cut-off year. Are we on the fringe of a new era that may be marked by saffron-wash of subjects like anthropology, anthropogeny, sociology and the like?
Further the media as well as the rumour mills are rife that the Justice Biplab Sarma headed committee report has recommended introduction of Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Assam. Beyond a shadow of doubt the indigenous people of Assam almost in their entirety would welcome such a recommendation, particularly after the CAA has posed a huge threat to the very identity of the Assamese people.
However, with CAA being at the top of the Hindutva agenda of the saffron brigade since 2014, it is as certain as daylight that the BJP-led government at the Centre cannot imagine in its wildest dream of allowing any roadblock to emerge in the CAA implementation process.
More so in Assam where from the electoral view point CAA is a goldmine of votes of Hindu Bangladeshis for the ruling party for all times to come. On that premises, the purported recommendation for introduction of ILP in Assam may already have made way to the political morgue.
While several other recommendations have been made by the committee as per media reports, rumour mills and grapevine musings, the Centre’s principal focus in all likelihood would be to ensure that the changed political landscape that it has so far scripted in Assam with CAA firmly in place does not change even by an iota.
The Hindutva agenda of the Centre and the State government only drives home the feeling that at the end of the day the Central government may come up with a Clause 6 roadmap of its own that may only leave the indigenous lot gasping while another lot of new citizens may reap the fruits of Clause 6 and the 6-year long historic Assam Movement.
While acceptance and rejection of the issues in respect of the Clause 6 report by the committee are, as of now, in a hypothetical and subjective state, one aspect may be a certainty.
Once the Centre makes a final and official announcement on Clause 6, a surging flood of litigations against the Centre’s stand on Clause 6 may make way to the Supreme Court as in the case of the NRC and the CAA. While such litigations may run into decades, it may be interesting to note that in another 15 years, the signing of the Assam Accord may cross the 50 year mark with all major clauses still stuck at square one.