By: Talmizur Rahman
It is 37 years since the now buried Assam Accord was signed by the Centre and the leaders of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) as the high watermark that saw the 6-year long Assam Movement against foreigners coming to an end. Armed with the Assam Accord, the agitation leaders gave birth to the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) at Golaghat in 1985 and plunged headlong into electoral politics. Riding on the wave of regional emotion and euphoria as though a 6-year long battle was won against Delhi, the indigenous Assamese people en masse elected the AGP to the seat of power in Dispur.
What happened thereafter for over three-and-a-half decades under successive AGP and Congress governments in the state is a history of foolery, mockery, stupidity & hoaxes created over the Assam Accord. With the Indo-Bangla border kept wide open, both by the Congress governments and the BJP government under Vajpayee at the Centre and again by the BJP government under Modi during the last 7 years, all mighty-mouthed announcements on the expulsion of Bangladeshis from Assam have turned into cruel political jokes. This process of the savagery of jokes over the Assam Accord consumed 37 long years till date – causing the Accord to be fully bed-ridden with paralysis.
In the wake of the BJP riding home to the seat of power in Dispur in 2016, the saffron dispensation at the Centre threw open its Bangladeshi card with a communal rider. As per the BJP parameter, every illegal Muslim Bangladeshi immigrant is a foreigner while an illegal Hindu Bangladeshi immigrant is not. In line with this framework, the CAA was enacted (with prior notice of CAB in the 2019 BJP election manifesto) under which all non-Muslim illegal Hindu migrants (in the case of Bangladeshis almost all illegal Hindu migrants) till December-end 2014 shall be granted citizenship under CAA which is now an Act, the law of the land.
Under the Assam Accord, the cut-off date & year for determination of foreigners is midnight of March 24, 1971. This date has now become a huge hoax with the CAA inflicting a death blow to the Accord. Sans teeth, fangs, claws, canines, or hooks, today Assam Accord is as good as a fossil. The note may be taken of the fact that the AGP which had it birth from the womb of the Assam Accord voted in favour of CAB in the Parliament for it to become CAA, law of the land. In short, the ground reality is that the Assam Accord is dead, a courtesy BJP-AGP cocktail, and is deeply buried.
One should not forget that many of the top AASU leaders of the eighties, nineties of the last century, and thereafter finally landed up in the lap of the BJP and became ministers, political bigwigs et al. The CAA enjoyed the full blessings of these ex-AASU leaders to become an Act. From that standpoint, although AASU was pivotal in initiating the anti-foreigners agitation in Assam, a host of frontline AASU leaders jumped into the BJP bandwagon thereafter while the students’ body turned into a mere chatterbox. Over the years, despite all its tall annunciations & billboards, its drive, particularly against foreigners in Assam, has been a journey of miserable failure with the Assam Accord finally lynched to death by CAA. Its latest failure is on Clause-6 front of the Assam Accord – a case of licking the dust. Its overall failure is so pronounced that at times one has to wonder as to which side of the fence some people may be may actually be located. Maybe, some still hold the AASU and some other regional bodies as holy cow. However, at the ground level, the holy cow image has eroded in massive strides.
On the other hand, after voting in support of CAA, the AGP has seemingly been reduced to a party without a face of its own. Its only difference with the BJP appears to in the names and party symbols. With the all-powerful CAA firmly stationed within the framework of the law of the land to ride roughshod over the dead Assam Accord once the law enacted to provide ‘mati & bheti’ to millions of Hindu Bangladeshis is implemented, can the AASU or the AGP reanimate & rejuvenate the corpse of Assam Accord back to life.
While as of now, the BJP and its allies like the AGP and such all-powerful kingpins are all set to lay down red carpets all over for illegal Hindu Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam, a foxy & sinister drama is seemingly all set to unfold in the coming days. Among others, the AASU and the AGP could very well be the high priests of the drama.
Only recently, the AGP president and minister for Assam Accord implementation Atul Bora called on the AASU leadership at their office. As expected, on its part the AASU extended a warm, traditional welcome. As per media reports, Bora informed that implementation of the Assam Accord was high in the priority list of the new government at Dispur and that soon formal discussion(s) on this count would be initiated with the AASU. The students’ body’s president Dipankar Kumar Nath also enthused optimism over the development. One is only reminded that a helpless drowning person tries to save himself even by holding on to a straw.
At this juncture it is for minister Atul Bora, the state government and the AASU leadership to answer as to how to overcome the roadblock posed by the CAA even if the remains of the Assam Accord is exhumed from its grave and attempts made to implement it. The CAA is a law enacted by the Parliament while, practically speaking, the Assam Accord is as good as a waste paper sans any legal authority. It needs no legal expert to explain that within the ambit of the law of land, the Assam Accord can never withstand bulldozing & crushing rumble of CAA. The Union Home Minister has asserted umpteen number of times that the CAA would be implemented in letter and spirit.
The media has reported that minister Atul Bora had said during his visit to the AASU office that the state government was according to high priority to the implementation of the Accord. The AASU, Atul Bora and both New Delhi and Dispur may be told that in the last 37 years a thousand such bogus statements were made. More significant is the fact that over the decades the route was a freeway without any legal blockade as deeply rooted & immovable as the Rock of Gibraltar as presently posed by the CAA. Times have changed, history has changed. Assam Accord has become a thing of the past – a fossil. Sham talks, statements, or attempts to implement the Assam Accord is like asking for the moon, nay, the distant galaxy.
Factually speaking the Assam Accord and CAA cannot go together. Oil is oil and water is water. Only a fraud may play to the gallery with tricks that oil and water can be mixed. Perhaps, the AASU, Atul Bora and Dispur have the answer to this topsy-turvy hullabaloo. will these great regional pundits make the answer public? The ground reality is that, being caught on the wrong foot from all ends, many fake Assam ‘premic’ outfits, remotely controlled by Delhi and Nagpur, have to enact obnoxious, sinister & satanic dramas to the gallery with a view to entrap a huge section of the local people sans any political wisdom & maturity while being guided by emotion, we the Assamese are making mighty advances and that New Delhi is bound to beat a hasty retreat,
Meanwhile, observers feel that an attempt could be underway to exhume the grave of the Assam Accord and enact long years of drama with the remains in the political interest of some, while the public may be at the receiving end. Even at that stage, some fools may be under the illusion that the fight against foreigners is in full swing and that the indigenous people would give a fitting reply on CAA, the CAA touts, and some stupid calls made by a handful of fake Assamese regionalists. We should not forget that with the body politic of the country rotting & stinking under the weight of black money power, sky-rocketing scams & galloping corruption, big money plays a pivotal role in decision-making or decision-hanging virtually in all matters of public interests. This ‘hanging’ factor is important as it gives an opportunity to the unscrupulous to keep any matter alive for future survival. One also wonders if some mighty master(s) could be behind the new foxy drama plot. Can those whose holy cow image has besmeared in mud regain their lost status?