Guwahati, January 11, 2018
What former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had agreed in 1985 to end the “troubled” six-year-long anti-foreigner movement in Assam has almost been fulfilled. Rajiv Gandhi had signed the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985 with the leaders of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and Jatiya Sangram Parishad–two organizations leading the anti-foreigners movement. More than 855 indigenous agitators and hundreds of suspected illegal migrants from Bangladesh were killed during the Assam Agitation between 1979 and 1985. Killings of more than 3,000 Muslims at Nellie in Morigaon district, about 40km East of Guwahati, still known as Nellie massacre, is a testimony of the violence Assam witnessed in its fight against foreigners.
As the Agitation pestered for long with no signs of solution, Rajiv Gandhi agreed to detect, delete and deport the illegal migrants living in Assam with March 24,1974 as the cut off date. It was agreed that the National Register of Citizens 1951 would be updated in Assam to detect the foreigners and put an end to the concerns by indigenous people that their identity would be threatened by the illegal migrants from Bangladesh. After 32 years of the proposal, the NRC finally saw the light of day on December 31, 2017.
In view of this, the ‘Registrar General of India’ issued the Ist ‘Draft List’ of National Register of Citizens (NRC) for State of Assam on the midnight of December 31, 2017 in accordance with the directions of Supreme Court to publish the Ist Draft on or before 31st December, 2017. 68.27 lakh families comprising of 3.29 crore applicants had submitted 6.5 crore documents in support of their citizenship claim. The Ist Draft List comprises of 1.9 crore persons.
This is the follow-up action of the historical ‘1985 Assam Peace Accord’ signed by then Prime Minister, late Rajiv Gandhi, which led to the end of one of the most violent movements in Assam and culminated in strengthening of democratic process. This process of identification and inclusion has been carried on since then.
In the year 2005, there was a tripartite consensus built between the then Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh; the then Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi; representatives of AASU, which decided to take forward the issue of preparation of National Register of Citizens. The exercise, that so begun in right earnestness, has been monitored by the Supreme Court of India since December, 2013 and the Ist Draft has consequently been published yesterday i.e. on 31st December, 2017. The first step in this Herculean task has been possible owing to the commitment of people of Assam to the ‘Accord’.
In a statement issued to the press, AICC Communications Incharge, Randeep Singh Surjewala has reiterated that Congress Party will remain committed to every pledge made in the ‘Assam Peace Accord’. The statement also stated that the party would ensure that the entire process of verification of citizens is carried out with complete integrity, transparency and accountability thereby assuring the people of Assam that Congress leaders and workers will leave no stone unturned to ensure that not a single claim of any citizen is left unaddressed and not a single family or a section of people suffers on account of lack of appropriate verification of their documents or claim.
Following on the lines of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Congress Party has chosedn to strengthen its stand unequivocally with people of Assam in ensuring that the entire process is carried out in an amicable and peaceful manner and with absolute lucidity, clarity and visibility.
Featured image courtesy: Government of Assam