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Batting for the Accord

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  9 May 2017 12:00 AM GMT

It is ironical to hear the Congress now batting hard for the Assam Accord, demanding that it be implemented in toto, giving dire warning that this State ‘will burn’ if the accord is violated. During the 15 years of Congress rule in the State since 2001, the Assam Accord Implementation department was so utterly neglected it did not even have a separate office of its own. Lacking proper infrastructure and manpower, it had little scope to work independently; most implementation works of the department were looked after by Home, Political, PWD, Cultural Affairs and Revenue departments. Since these departments did not share information of whatever work they did, officials of Assam Accord Implementation department were often left floundering whenever queries were raised in the Assembly. Not surprisingly, those posted to this department considered it a punishment. The nodal body to implement the Assam Accord is the Union Home Ministry, but scarcely anything moved in this direction in all the years the Congress-led UPA was ruling the Centre. Deportation of Bangladeshis who came after 1971 remained a sick joke, the border continued to be open and influx went on ubated, while all talk of giving constitutiol and economic safeguards to ‘Assamese’ people stayed bogged down over its definition. It was only when the present NDA regime began moving with its own agenda to regularise Hindu refugees by amending the Citizenship Act, that those who systematically worked all these years to bury Assam Accord suddenly rediscovered its sanctity. Their urgency is all the greater with the Supreme Court set to begin hearing a plea challenging 1971 as the base year for deportation of foreigners. In an overt attempt to influence a matter that is sub-judice, the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee is demanding that the Central government should ‘intervene with legal measures and persuade the apex court’ — because if Section 6A of Citizenship Act is struck down and 1951 made the base year, ‘lakhs of people in Assam will be rendered stateless’. The problem is that the political class then ruling the Centre and Assam were never sincere when drawing up the Assam Accord in 1985. Their intention all along was to serve Assam with a fait accompli that nothing practically can be done about the existence of foreigners, that this State alone must willy nilly bear their burden. The Centre, after all, had in its arsel a law like the IMDT Act in 1983 itself, a law which made it all but impossible to detect and deport foreigners. It is amusing to hear Tarun Gogoi now trying to claim some credit for persuading Rajiv Gandhi to go ahead with the Assam Accord ‘despite Assam Movement having already lost steam by then’. It is upon us to recall how the then political powers bludgeoned the people here by ramming through a bloody assembly election in 1983, and using all tricks in the bag to divide the movement leadership. And Prafulla Kumar Mahanta is not helping matters now by suddenly claiming the Assam Accord was ‘signed under pressure due to the machitions of the then Central and State governments’. What was the ture of the compulsion the Assam Movement leaders were under, and what did his two regimes do to expose and undo the pressure allegedly applied? Such talk now simply reignites speculations that some leaders were then anxious to accept whatever was on offer — to save face and contest elections. Sadly, the Assam Accord has come to be associated with a history of betrayal. We should no more entertain leaders to play their regressive politics over it once again.

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