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Assam Accord � 26 years on, no action yet on main clauses

By R Dutta Choudhury
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GUWAHATI, Aug 14 � As many as 26 years have passed since the signing of the historic Assam Accord, but the main clauses of the Accord are yet to be implemented and the problem of infiltration of foreigners has become more serious than ever before. The Central and State Governments have not yet been able to complete the fencing along the international border. However, the Government of India is planning to complete the fencing all along the land border by the end of 2012 but till date, there is no plan to put up any physical barrier to improve vigil on the riverine border.

The process of detection and deportation of foreigners living in Assam remains a farce and according to Government records alone, as many as 1.12 lakh cases were registered under the provisions of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act from 1985 to 2005 and only 24,000 cases were disposed of declaring 12,856 persons as illegal migrants. But only 1547 of those could be deported from India. The situation did not improve even after the scrapping of the IMDT Act by the Supreme Court as of the more than four lakh cases referred to the Foreigners Tribunals, only 56,000 could be disposed of declaring 32,000 persons as illegal migrants and only less than 10 per cent of those could be deported. The failure of the Government to provide basic facilities to the Tribunals also resulted in slow progress of the disposal of the cases and around 13 of the 32 Tribunals even do not have judges.

Implementation of Clause 6 of the Accord, which provided for constitutional protection to the �Assamese people� is vital for protecting the identity of the indigenous people of the State in the face of silent invasion by the infiltrators. But unfortunately, this clause of the Accord is yet to be implemented. The State Government constituted a committee of ministers to examine the issue in October, 2006, but the committee is yet to submit its report. The issue of reservation for �Assamese people� in the Parliament, Assembly and local bodies can be taken up only after a consensus on the definition of �Assamese people� is reached.

The process of implementing the pilot projects of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) of 1951 in two revenue circles of the State�Barpeta and Chaygaon were suspended after violent protest by one organisation in Barpeta and till date, the Government has not finalised any time frame for completion of the job. It may be mentioned here that the decision to update the NRC within two years was taken at a tripartite meeting to review the implementation of the Accord, which was chaired by the Prime Minister on May 5, 2005. But the State Government took a long time even to complete the modalities for the same, which delayed the whole process.

Clause 7 of the Accord provided for steps for speedy economic development of the State but so far, very little has been done in this regard and the recommendations of various committees including the LC Jain commission and Skukla Commission are yet to be implemented. The All Assam Students� Union (AASU) has been demanding that flood and erosion in Assam should be treated as national problems and steps should be taken to deal with the problems. The Government also issued advertisements after the tripartite meeting under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister that flood and erosion would be declared as national problems, but so far no serious step has been taken to deal with the problems.

However, on the positive side, the Government of India recently decided to increase the strength of the Border Security Force and a new frontier headquarter of the force is to be set up in Guwahati within this year. But at the same time, the State Government has failed to increase the strength of the border police force and though a decision to set up a second line of defence was taken way back in 1999, the same is yet to become fully functional.

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Assam Accord � 26 years on, no action yet on main clauses

GUWAHATI, Aug 14 � As many as 26 years have passed since the signing of the historic Assam Accord, but the main clauses of the Accord are yet to be implemented and the problem of infiltration of foreigners has become more serious than ever before. The Central and State Governments have not yet been able to complete the fencing along the international border. However, the Government of India is planning to complete the fencing all along the land border by the end of 2012 but till date, there is no plan to put up any physical barrier to improve vigil on the riverine border.

The process of detection and deportation of foreigners living in Assam remains a farce and according to Government records alone, as many as 1.12 lakh cases were registered under the provisions of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act from 1985 to 2005 and only 24,000 cases were disposed of declaring 12,856 persons as illegal migrants. But only 1547 of those could be deported from India. The situation did not improve even after the scrapping of the IMDT Act by the Supreme Court as of the more than four lakh cases referred to the Foreigners Tribunals, only 56,000 could be disposed of declaring 32,000 persons as illegal migrants and only less than 10 per cent of those could be deported. The failure of the Government to provide basic facilities to the Tribunals also resulted in slow progress of the disposal of the cases and around 13 of the 32 Tribunals even do not have judges.

Implementation of Clause 6 of the Accord, which provided for constitutional protection to the �Assamese people� is vital for protecting the identity of the indigenous people of the State in the face of silent invasion by the infiltrators. But unfortunately, this clause of the Accord is yet to be implemented. The State Government constituted a committee of ministers to examine the issue in October, 2006, but the committee is yet to submit its report. The issue of reservation for �Assamese people� in the Parliament, Assembly and local bodies can be taken up only after a consensus on the definition of �Assamese people� is reached.

The process of implementing the pilot projects of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) of 1951 in two revenue circles of the State�Barpeta and Chaygaon were suspended after violent protest by one organisation in Barpeta and till date, the Government has not finalised any time frame for completion of the job. It may be mentioned here that the decision to update the NRC within two years was taken at a tripartite meeting to review the implementation of the Accord, which was chaired by the Prime Minister on May 5, 2005. But the State Government took a long time even to complete the modalities for the same, which delayed the whole process.

Clause 7 of the Accord provided for steps for speedy economic development of the State but so far, very little has been done in this regard and the recommendations of various committees including the LC Jain commission and Skukla Commission are yet to be implemented. The All Assam Students� Union (AASU) has been demanding that flood and erosion in Assam should be treated as national problems and steps should be taken to deal with the problems. The Government also issued advertisements after the tripartite meeting under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister that flood and erosion would be declared as national problems, but so far no serious step has been taken to deal with the problems.

However, on the positive side, the Government of India recently decided to increase the strength of the Border Security Force and a new frontier headquarter of the force is to be set up in Guwahati within this year. But at the same time, the State Government has failed to increase the strength of the border police force and though a decision to set up a second line of defence was taken way back in 1999, the same is yet to become fully functional.

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