Assam Eviction: Stirring A Hornets’ Nest
Guwahati: A week after the violent clash between alleged encroachers and authorities claimed two lives in Garukhuti area in Darrang district, a fresh controversy has popped up in the state about the history of the area during the Assam agitation in 1980s.
The controversy started allegedly by Congress legislator from Baghbor Sherman Ali Ahmed when he while reacting to the Garukhuti eviction drive allegedly dishonoured some eight martyrs of Assam agitation and termed them as ‘killers’.
At least eight persons were killed by suspected Bangladeshi migrants in 1983 in Dholpur area of Gorukhuti. Ali said, “They were not martyrs but killers. They had killed many during that time in the name of the movement. They were being killed as villagers were scared of them and defending themselves.”
Reacting sharply to the comment, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “Sherman Ali is not the problem but it’s the problem of Congress party which protect such person who dishonor our history.”
Finding itself in a tight spot due to Ali’s comment, Assam Congress president Bhupen Borah said that the party would deal with Ali strictly.
Borah said, “The comment was unfortunate and unnecessary. The party will not tolerate such statement. As per the party constitution, I have already discussed the matter with Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia and strong action will be taken upon Ali. He has crossed the ‘laxman rekha’ (boundary).”
The Assam agitation was led by All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) during the 1980s demanding the deportation of illegal settlers from Bangladesh who had entered in the state since East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) crisis.
It was in Mangaldoi in Assam’s Darrang district where the genesis of the Assam agitation began and the seeds for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) were sown four decades ago. Though the official process of updating NRC started in 2015, the push for it had come in a by-election at the Mangaldoi Lok Sabha constituency in 1978.
Prior to the polls, it was found that registered voters numbers had suddenly swollen, sparking suspicion that it happened because of the entry of illegal infiltrators from Bangladesh in to the voters’ list. Thus began the six-year Assam Agitation in 1979, which ended with the signing of the Assam Accord that promised to update the 1951 NRC.