What is the Assam Accord of 1985 and how is it relevant in 2019?
GUWAHATI: Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), now Citizenship Amendment Act, which has been welcomed by the majority of India, is however facing backlash in several parts of the country. Protesters against CAA have emerged in several parts of the country but they differ from each other. The protesters from the northeast- Assam are against CAA because they fear that if the act is implemented it will endanger their linguistic and demographic exclusivity. CAA also invalidates the 34 year old Assam Accord which was the culmination of a 6 year long agitation from 1979 to 1985, that left 855 dead and many injured.
Here is all you need to know about the Assam Accord of 1985:
The Assam Accord is a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed by the All Assam Student’s Union (AASU) and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the presence of the then Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi on August 15, 1985. On behalf of AASU the accord was signed by its then president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and general secretary Bhrigu Kumar Phukan, and on behalf of the central government it was signed by the then Union Home Secretary, RD Pradhan.
Clause 5 of the accord talks about the foreigner issue while Clause 6 of the Assam Accord asserts about constitutional safeguards of the Assamese people.
Clause 5 of Assam Accord lays out the following points in relation to the Foreigners Issue:
5.1 For purposes of detection and deletion of foreigners, 1.1.1966 shall be the base date and year.
5.2 All persons who came to Assam prior to 1.1.1966, including those amongst them whose name appeared on the electoral rolls used in 1967 elections, shall be regularized.
5.3 Foreigners who came to Assam after 1.1.1966 (inclusive) and upto 24th March, 1971 shall be detected in accordance with the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order 1964.
5.4 Names of Foreigners so detected 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.
5.5 For this purpose, Government of India will undertake suitable strengthening of the governmental machinery.
5.6 On the expiry of a period of ten year following the date of detection, the names of all such persons which have been deleted from the electoral rolls shall be restored.
5.7 All persons who were expelled, earlier, but have since re-entered illegally into Assam, shall be expelled.
5.8 Foreigners who came to Assam on or after March 25, 1971 shall continue to be detected, deleted and expelled in accordance with law. Immediate and practical steps shall be taken to expel such foreigners.
5.9 The Government will give due consideration to certain difficulties expressed by the AASU/AAGSP regarding the implementation of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983.
Clause 6 states that the, “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people”.
Clause 7 states, “The Government takes this opportunity to renew their commitment for the speedy all round economic development of Assam, so as to improve the standard of living of the people. Special emphasis will be placed on education and science & technology through establishment of national institutions.”
Clause 8 talks about:
8.1 The Government will arrange for the issue of citizenship certificates in future only by the authorities of the Central Government.
8.2 Specific complaints that may be made by the AASU/AAGSP about irregular issuance of Indian Citizenship Certificates (ICC) will be looked into.
Clause 9 includes:
9 The international border shall be made secured against future infiltration by erection of physical barriers like walls, barbed wire fencing and other obstacles at appropriate places. Patrolling by security forces on land and riverine routes all along international border shall be adequately intensified. In order to further strengthen the security arrangements, to prevent effectively future infiltration, an adequate number of check posts shall be set up.
9.2 Besides the arrangements mentioned above and keeping in view security considerations, a road all along the international border shall be constructed so as to facilitate patrolling by security forces. Land between border and the road would be kept free of human habitation, wherever possible. Riverine patrolling along the international border would be intensified. All effective measures would be adopted to prevent infiltrators crossing or attempting to crass the international border.
Clause 10 states, “It will be ensured that relevant laws for prevention of encroachment of Government lands and lands in tribal belts and blocks are strictly enforced and unauthorized encroachers evicted as laid down under such laws.”
Through Clause 11, It will be ensured that the relevant law restricting acquisition of immovable property by foreigners in Assam is strictly enforced.
Clause 12 states, “It will be ensured that Birth and Death Registers are duly maintained.”
Clause 13 states, “The All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the All Assam GanaSangramParishad (AAGSP) call off the agitation, assure full co-operation and dedicate themselves towards the development of the country.”
Through the Clause 14 of the accord both the Central and the State Government have agreed to :-
(a) review with sympathy and withdraw cases of disciplinary action taken against employees in the context of the agitation and to ensure that there is no victimization;
(b) frame a scheme for ex-gratia payment to next of kin of those who killed in the course of the agitation;
(c) give sympathetic consideration to proposal for relaxation of upper age limit for employment in public services in Assam, having regard to exceptional situation that prevailed in holding of academic and competitive examinations, etc. in the context of agitation in Assam;
(d) undertake review of detention cases, if any, as well as cases against persons charged with criminal offences in connection with the agitation, except those charged with commission of heinous offences;
(e) consider withdrawal of the prohibitory orders/ notifications in force, if any.
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