Things You Didn’t Know About The Assam Accord

Lakhs of Indians will no longer be Indian citizens after 31st August 2019 and The Assam Accord will decide their fate.

What is the Assam Accord? Why is Assam the only Indian state to have an exclusive citizenship cut-off date? What steered the Rajiv Gandhi government to sign the Accord with All Assam Students Union and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad on the midnight of August 14, 1985?

Assam– The Accord, The Discord by Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty brings to light the moments that led to the MoU, giving a blow-by-blow account of what happened before and after the signing of the Accord.

The Assam Accord, signed in the early hours of August 15, 1985 at Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s residence marked the end of a bloody era in Assam, albeit temporarily, which had seen the fall of four state governments, three spells of President’s Rule—all in a span of six years due to the massive support that the signatories of the Accord received in the state.

Here are some facts from the book:

    • The Accord led to the birth of two political parties in AssamThe Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and its bête noire, the United Minority Front, Assam (UMFA). The Centre kept the details of the negotiations secret. Everyone heard about the Accord only at the Independence Day speech of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

 

    • The National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam is being updated as per the Assam Accord, signed by the Centre in 1985 with All Assam Students Union(AASU) and All Assam Gana,Sangram Parishad to end an ‘anti-foreigner’ agitation. Unlike other parts of India, Assam has an exclusive citizenship cut-off date – March 24, 1971.

 

    • Many are not aware that the All Assam Students Union(AASU) flag was inspired by the flag of the Mukti Bahini that fought for creation of Bangladesh. Later, AASU’s flag became a symbol of resentment against the huge influx of refugees from East Pakistan due to Mukti Bahini’s face off with Pakistani army.

 

    • AASU demanded 1951 as the cut-off date for citizenship in Assam. All Assam Minority Students Union(AAMSU) and Citizens Rights Protection Committee(CRPC) wanted March 24, 1971, based on the Indira Gandhi-Mujibur Rahman treaty of 1972, as per which anyone who entered Assam (India) from East Pakistan till that date would be considered an Indian citizen. Several Assamese intellectuals joined hands with AAMSU, CRPC to root for the 1971 cut-off.

 

After the NRC update process is complete this August 31, what will be the fate of those left out of it? Is deportation of undocumented immigrants a practical solution? Is the government considering issuing work permits to them? Is granting constitutional protection based on a citizenship cut-off year a way out?

As the deadline for the final NRC list nears, Pisharoty hopes that Assam is still the home of Sankardev and Azan Fakir, of linguistic diversity and cultural assimilation — not a communal, divided land where politics is the only winner.

Assam – The Accord, the Discord delves into possible solutions that are on the table to sort out the festering problem. The book is available now.

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