GUWAHATI, Aug 14 � The people of Assam agitated for six years for the signing of the Assam Accord and now they are waiting for the last 27 years for the implementation of it for a permanent solution to the problem of infiltration of foreigners, which posed a threat to the identity of the indigenous people of the State. The main clauses of the Accord are yet to be implemented and several deadlines set by the Government of India on sealing the international border with Bangladesh expired without completion of the work.
The border fencing work started way back in the late 1980s after the signing of the Assam Accord on the midnight of August 14, 1985, but till date the work has not been completed and though the Government declared that the work would be completed within this year, it remains to be seen whether the Government agencies can keep their word in this regard. Interestingly, around 76 kilometers of fencing constructed in the first phase had to be uprooted for erection of new fencing because of faulty design of the old one.
On the positive side, over the years, the strength of the Border Security Force (BSF) has been increased in phased manner and a new frontier headquarter of the border guarding force has been set up in Guwahati, which is a positive development. But unfortunately, with the improvement of relation between India and Bangladesh, the personnel of the BSF have been directed to use force only on self defence, which affected border management as the force personnel are not in a position to open fire on infiltrators.
A decision was taken way back in 1999 to raise a second line of defence with Assam Police personnel to improve border management. The BSF is also of the view that a second line of defence would be of great help, but the force is yet to be raised fully because of the reasons best known to the Government.
The people of Assam saw a ray of hope when the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh chaired a tripartite meeting on the implementation of the Accord on May 5, 2005, but unfortunately, the decisions taken in the meeting remained on paper and Dr Singh himself failed to review the matter.
The second major point in the Accord was detection and deportation of foreigners, but the process of doing it remained a farce as less than 10 percent of the persons declared as foreigners by the Tribunals can be physically deported. Bangladesh often refuses to accept those sought to be deported as Bangladeshi nationals and India also failed to take up the issue strongly with the neighbouring country. Though the number of tribunals under the Foreigners Act has been increased, necessary facilities have not been provided to the Tribunals, some of which even do not even have judges and thousands of cases are pending for years.
Updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) of 1951 and providing photo identity cards to Indian citizens on the basis of it could have been helpful in detecting foreigners, but the Government stopped the process after an incident of violence in Barpeta in 2010 and the process is yet to resume.
Clause 6 of the Accord provided for giving constitutional safeguard to the indigenous people of Assam, which is vital at a time when the indigenous people are facing the demographic invasion. But unfortunately, the Government of Assam is yet to determine the definition of �Assamese people� for implementing the clause to give constitutional protection to the indigenous people of the state.
Clause 7 of the Accord said that the Government of India would take steps for the all round economic development of Assam but very little has been done in this regard and reports of various committees like the Shukla Commission are gathering dust for years. The Prime Minister, in the meeting in 2005, promised to declare flood as a national problem, but that also remained on paper only.