Headline : Explained: What is the Assam Accord that is fueling protests in the state
- The debate on the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) passed by Parliament has repeatedly flagged the alleged violation of the Assam Accord by the new law.
- There is deep anxiety among people that with the CAB giving easy citizenship for illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, Assam will be overrun by aliens.
- Two youths were killed and nine others injured in police firing on protesters defying the indefinite curfew and Army presence in Assam to rally against the CAB.
- The Assam Accord was a Memorandum of Settlement signed by the Governments of India and Assam, and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the All Assam GanaSangramParishad (AAGSP) in New Delhi on August 15, 1985.
- The signing of the Accord led to the conclusion of a six-year agitation that was launched by AASU in 1979, demanding the identification and deportation of illegal immigrants.
Background in which Assam Accord was signed
- AASU had in 1980, conveyed their apprehensions to then PM Indira Gandhi, regarding the continuing influx of foreign nationals into Assam.
- It feared the adverse effects of the influx upon the political, social, cultural and economic life of the State.
- Indira Gandhi began a dialogue with the AASU/AAGSP, and talks were held at the levels of the PM and Home Minister during 1980-83. Formal discussions resumed in March 1985, when Rajiv Gandhi was PM.
- The Accord was finally signed later in 1985, “keeping all aspects of the problem including constitutional and legal provisions, international agreements, national commitments and humanitarian considerations”.
What was agreed upon in the Assam Accord?
- At the heart of the Accord was the “Foreigners Issue” (Clause 5), and “Safeguards and Economic Development” (Clauses 6 and 7).
- There were some “Other Issues” (Clauses 8-12), and a section on “Restoration of Normalcy” (Clauses 13 and 14).
What does the much discussed Clause 6 of the Accord say?
- Clause 6 deals with safeguards for the Assamese people.
- According to it, constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the culture, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
- The Accord also underlined the government’s “commitment for the speedy all-round economic development of Assam, so as to improve the standard of living of the people.
- This would be done with special emphasis on education and science and technologythrough establishment of national institutions”.
What was agreed upon with regard to the “foreigners’ issue”?
- It was agreed, that for purposes of detection and deletion of foreigners, 1.1966 shall be the base data and year.
- All persons who came to Assam prior to the said date, including those amongst them whose names appeared on the electoral rolls used in 1967 elections shall be regularised.
- Foreigners who came to Assam after 1.1.1966 (inclusive) and upto 24th March, 1971 shall be detected in accordance to The Foreigners Act, 1946, and The Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964” and their names will be deleted from the electoral rolls in force.
- Such persons, will be required to register themselves before the Registration Officers of the respective districts in accordance with the provisions of The Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939, and The Registration of Foreigners Rules, 1939.
- However, on the expiry of a period of ten years following the date of detection, the names of all such persons which have been deleted from the electoral rolls shall be restored.
- And all persons who were expelled earlier, but have since re-entered illegally into Assam shall be expelled.
- Foreigners who came to Assam on or after March 25, 1971 shall continue to be detected, deleted and practical steps shall be taken to expel such foreigners.