Congress' Tarun Gogoi accused Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma of lying in the state Assembly about Assam Accord despite submitting an affidavit in the Supreme Court with 1971 as the cut-off year for detecting and deporting illegal immigrants. In addition, he called the BJP leader a "habitual liar" and blamed him for "misleading" the people of the state with "false explanations." Gogoi's comments on Sarma came a day after the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) had made similar allegations against Sarma, saying he had lied in the Assembly by claiming there was no mention of March 24, 1971 cut-off date in the Accord.
"Himanta Biswa Sarma lied in the Assembly that the Accord did not say anything about 1971. Lying is his habit. What more can we expect when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi lies on everything," Gogoi told reporters. Sarma is misleading the people of Assam to deviate the movement against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act," he said. "Himanta himself had submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court on July 14, 2015 on fixing 1971 as the base year for the NRC update work. It is strange that now he is saying that there is no mention of 1971 in the Accord," Gogoi said.
He asked how were the Foreigners' Tribunals conducting trials for suspected illegal immigrants coming to Assam after March 24, 1971, if there was no mention of the cut-off date in Assam Accord. On January 13, Sarma had said in the Assembly that the amended Citizenship Act does not violate the Assam Accord, but is aimed at addressing the "unresolved" issues of the pact. "The Assam Accord didn't speak about children of those coming before 1971, so it's inconclusive," he had said.
"The Assam Accord is not that bad. If we had read it properly, 1966 would have been the cut off the year and the 1967 voter list would have been the NRC. I regret that" he had claimed to cite clauses 5.1 to 5.7 of the pact. However, Sarma did not mention Clause 5.8 of the Accord which says, "Foreigners who came to Assam on or after March 25, 1971, shall continue to be detected, deleted and expelled in accordance with the law. Immediate and practical steps shall be taken to expel such foreigners." AASU Chief Adviser Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya had on Sunday demanded that Sarma and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal apologise to the people for providing "wrong explanation" about the Accord at the one-day special session of the Assembly on January 13.
A six-year agitation demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants was launched by the AASU in 1979. It had culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985, in the presence of the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The "Foreigners Issue" and "Safeguards and "Economic Development" was at the crux of the Assam Accord. The Accord was brought into existence after an agitation led by the youth saw a direct threat and were apprehensive with the illegal influx of foreigners in the state. The Assam specific provisions in the CAA rules are expected as the state has been witnessing widespread protests against the CAA.
Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, mainly spearheaded by student bodies AASU and AJYCP, are continuing across the Brahmaputra Valley. There has been a growing feeling among the indigenous people of Assam that the newly-enacted legislation will hurt their interests politically, culturally as well as socially. The Assam Accord provides for the detection and deportation of all illegal immigrants, who have entered the country after 1971 and are living in the state, irrespective of their religion. The protesters in Assam say that the CAA violates the provisions of the Assam Accord.
(With PTI inputs)