After Assam has been flooded with Bangladeshis, where to draw a line is a dilemma
NJ Thakuria, Guwahati
As the debate over the cut-off year for detection and deportation of illegal Bangladeshi nationals in Assam gains momentum, a north-east India based patriotic forum comes out with an argument that 1951 should be taken as the base year. However, the forum reaffirmed that it would abide by the guidelines of the Supreme Court of India as the matter is still in the apex court’s jurisdiction.
Assam, unlike other frontier Indian States to Bangladesh, continues raising voices against millions of illegal migrants from the poverty-stricken neighbour. For decades, the political parties, civil society groups and also the media in Assam have been raising the matter of deporting the Bangladeshis. Even the government has no visible action plan to address the issue as it is complicated and sensitive in nature.
Assam witnessed a six years long mass movement led by All-Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and Asom Gana Sangam Parishad (now abolished) to detect and deport all the Bangladeshi citizens who entered Assam (India) after 1951. But the irony is that leaders of the movement, including the former Assam Chief Minister PK Mahanata, agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Union
government pushing back the cut-off date to 25 March 1971.
Thus the movement that started in 1979 came to an end in 1985 paving the way for the birth of a regional political party named Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the AGP came to power at Dispur the same year. But Mahanata and his partymen did precious little to constitutionally validate the historic Assam Accord, signed in presence of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Today, both, the AASU and AGP, maintain their stand in favour of 1971 as the cut-off date for identification and deportation of illegal migrants to Bangladesh. They receive a supporting voice from Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind’s Assam unit along with the All-India United Democratic Front and the Congress.
Now the Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA) comes out with a
statement that the Assam movement was run with the aim of 1951 as the base year. The forum commented that the movement leaders surprisingly agreed to grant citizenship to the those Bangladesh origin nationals who entered Assam before 25 March 1971.
“Need not mention that few million Bangladeshi (then East Pakistani) nationals entered Assam during 1951 to 1971 and they have been waiting for constitutional rights to stay in the
country as the legal residents. If the accord is implemented thoroughly, all these foreigners would get Indian
citizenship easily,” said the PPFA
statement, endorsed by Rupam Barua, Jagadindra Raichoudhury, Pramod Kalita, Anup Sarma, Girindra Kumar Karjee, Suresh Ranjan Goduka etc.
They also added that for some
specific reasons the accord was signed with the base year of 1971, but nobody should forget that all the 855 Assam movement martyrs starting with Khargeswar Talukder sacrificed their lives for 1951 as base year. So
respecting those martyrs the cut-off year should be advanced without changing other clauses of the accord.
“But for any reason, if New Delhi changes the cut-off year (to detect and deport illegal foreigners) for the whole country from 1951 to 1961 or 1971, the PPFA would agree with the new date. Otherwise, a province (State) cannot have a separate cut-off year from the national base year,” pointed out the statement.