Guwahati: Reacting sharply on Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s public statement over 1971 as the cut-off year (to identify illegal immigrants in the State following the historic Assam Accord signed in 1985 culminating the six years long anti-foreigners agitation), Upamanyu Hazarika-who leads an influential forum against infiltration- urges Sarma to come clean over the matter.
The convenor of Prabajan Virodhi Manch (PVM) in a communique to this writer asserted that Sarma had given two sets of contradictory views on the issue of cut-off date for granting citizenship to migrants from erstwhile East Pakistan/ Bangladesh. In a press briefing on Saturday, Sarma said that ‘because the then Assam government signed the accord, it has to be 1971’, but personally he supports 1951 (as the cut-off year) along with the citizenship amendment act and delimitation process.
Mentionable is that the validity of Assam Accord endorsed cut-off date (25 March 1971) has been challenged in the Supreme Court of India by Matiur Rahman led Asom Sanmilita Maha Sangha and the matter is coming up for final hearing before the apex court’s constitution bench on 14 February next, said Hazarika, also a senior advocate in the SC, adding that the people of Assam are waiting for the court verdict if it goes in favour of19 July 1948 (as prevalent for the rest of India under Article 6 of the Constitution) or not.
“CM Sarma’s views are nothing but an attempt at confusing the indigenous people by indulging in doublespeak. The cut-off date of 25 March 1971 is being justified on the ground that a large number of lives were lost in the conflict between foreigners and local people of Assam, and the agreement conferring citizenship to additional immigrants (from 1948 to 1971) peace was brought back. The fact remains today that there’s only an affidavit from the State government supporting 1971,” added Hazarika.
He also asserted that the sanctity of the Assam Accord’s cut-off date is contradicted by the Sarma led government’s policy under Mission Basundhara 2.0 under which the Bangladeshi nationals (coming to into Assam prior to 2011 and acquiring easily available proofs like Aadhaar, driving license, PAN card, etc)are being allotted lands in various grazing reserves. Through this scheme, the Sarma government in Dispur has modified the cutoff date to 2011 (undermining the Constitution, citizenship act, ongoing relevant debates in the Constitution bench, etc), added Hazarika
“Assam government’s affidavit on record before the SC was filed when Sarma used to be the minister in-charge of Assam Accord Implementation in Tarun Gogoi led Congress government and it supported the cutoff date of 25 March 1971. Later Sarma joined the Bhartiya Janata Party, but content of the affidavit remains unchanged (in the written submission filed by the BJP government on 1 May 2017) in spite of his professing support to 1951 as the cut-off year,” commented Hazarika.
Hazarika alleged that regardless of what Sarma says, the saffron party- that came to power on the plank of protecting indigenous people in Assam and the State government has been consistently in favour of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. Sarma made the confusing statements only to beguile the public, asserted the PVM convenor adding that there is still time to file a new affidavit against 1971 (being the cut-off year) in the SC, ‘if Sarma’s intention is honest’.