GUWAHATI, Aug 14 - As many as 32 years have passed since the signing of the historic Assam Accord but unfortunately, the main clauses of the Accord are yet to be fulfilled. The process of detection and deportation of foreigners remains a farce. From time to time, the Government of India has been making promises to implement the Accord but the promises remain on paper only. In fact, the process of deportation of foreigners slowed down considerably in the last four years, while, the Central and State Governments are yet to finalize the definition of �Assamese people� to provide constitutional safeguards under the provisions of Clause 6 of the Accord.
The main clause of the Assam Accord, that is detection and deportation of foreigners, who came to Assam after the midnight of March 24, 1971, remains unfulfilled and the process has not gathered momentum even after the scrapping of the controversial Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act by the Supreme Court in 2005. In fact, after the Government introduced a new rule for deportation, the process slowed down and only two persons declared as foreigners by the Tribunals constituted under the provisions of the Foreigners� Act, could be deported during the period from March, 2013 to May this year. The Government of India is yet to take effective steps to sign a repatriation treaty with Bangladesh for the deportation of the persons declared as Bangladeshi nationals by the Tribunals and Courts and the issue was not on the top of the agenda of the discussions between the two countries in recent times. On the other hand, despite increasing the number of Tribunals to 100, more than 1.78 lakh cases are still pending.
Another major issue affecting the process is that a large number of persons declared as foreigners became untraced. Though the exact number of such persons is yet to be ascertained, the figure will not be less than 40,000 and only around 1300 of them could be apprehended. This happened because of lack of any system to keep a watch on the suspects during the trial period and such persons can easily move from one place to other during the trial, making it almost impossible for the law enforcing agencies to trace them out.
The BJP-led governments both at the Centre and in the State made promises to deal with the problem. Immediately after taking over charge, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal visited the international border areas to assess the situation on the ground. Teams of legislators and senior officers were also sent to the international border areas to study the situation and recommend measures to deal with the situation. But the international border is yet to be sealed and though the riverine international border is still considered most vulnerable, no effective step has yet been taken by the Centre to improve vigil along the area. Though the State Government has posted one officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police in four districts having international border only to deal with the problem of infiltration, they are virtually helpless without adequate forces at their disposal. The decision to create a strong second line of defence, taken way back in 1999, is yet to be implemented on the ground.
Implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, by which the Centre promised to provide constitutional safeguards to the indigenous people of the State, is vital to protect the identity of the indigenous people but unfortunately, successive Governments at the Centre and in the State have not yet been able to find out the definition of �Assamese people� for providing such safeguards. On the other hand, in Clause 7 of the Accord, the Centre promised to work for all round economic development of Assam to improve the standard of living of the people. The All Assam Students� Union (AASU) has been demanding that floods and erosion should be declared as national problems under the provisions of the Clause as economic development of the State would never be possible without permanent solution of the problems. But the Centre is yet to do anything in this regard.
The attitude of the Centre on the implementation of the Accord is evident from the fact that tripartite meetings at political level on the implementation of the Act are also not held periodically to review the progress. The last such meeting chaired by the Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, was held after a gap of 12 years. The decisions taken in the previous meeting chaired by the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in May, 2005 were not implemented on the ground and it remains to be seen whether the decisions taken in the last meeting in May this year are actually implemented.