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22 years later, Assam Accord remains in paper
Durba Ghosh in Guwahati | August 14, 2007 12:11 IST
It is 22 years since the historic Assam Accord to settle the contentious 'foreigners' issue was implemented, but illegal migration continues unabated in the Northeastern state.
Influx from Bangladesh has assumed alarming proportion in recent months, threatening to create tension between different states of the Northeast.
This, however, has proved an uphill task for all successive governments, including the two Asom Gana Parishad government led by Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, regarded as the brain behind the foreigners' agitation.
Assam Accord Implementation Minister Bhumidhar Barman said during the last three-and-a-half years from 2004 to June 2007, only 11 Bangladeshis were deported though 110 were detected in 2004, 117 in 2005, 60 in 2006 and 118 up to June 2007.
Barman said nearly 85 per cent of the border-fencing was completed and the entire process was expected to be over next year.
All Assam Students' Union advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya alleged that the government lacked the political will to detect and deport Bangladeshis and the problem lingered creating a dangerous impact on the demographic pattern of the state.
"The problem of infiltration has plagued the state for decades .The government is interested only in vote-bank politics and not in solving the problem which threatens the very existence of the indigenous Assamese," he said.
The Assam Accord was signed on August 15, 1985 between the Centre and representatives of AASU and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad, which spearheaded the movement.
The Accord says, "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."
The recent pushing back of suspected illegal migrants from neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland has also created tension with the Congress government in Assam. They claim that they are genuine Indian citizens, while the other two states maintain that they are of "doubtful origin".