‘Citizenship’: A question since Nellie massacre to Assam Polls 2021
The term ‘foreigner’ might have been the lone word that has a lot to do with every Assam election. The state has witnessed violence over the issue of identifying ‘foreigners’, or illegal immigrants from Bangladesh for ages.
Some 38 years back, Assam witnessed its one of the most violent incident over the issue of infiltration on 18 February 1983, when in a horrific bloodbath known as the Nellie massacre nearly 2,000 Muslims were allegedly slaughtered by a mob in just six hours.
Two years after the Nellie massacre, in 1985, the Assam Accord was signed — fixing the cut-off date to identify the foreigners as March 24, 1971, the day before the Bangladesh Liberation War began.
But with no implementation of the Assam Accord in its true letter and spirit and an ‘erroneous’ National Register of Citizenship, even in this upcoming election, illegal infiltration from Bangladesh continues to be the central issue. The prime issues of the Assam election-NRC and CAA, both are dealing with the ‘outsider’.
With the election nearing and the frequency of visits by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have gone up extensively. The leaders have been participating in party meetings, poll rallies as well as in government functions. But in contrast to everyone’s expectations; unfortunately, in their public addresses, both the leaders did not throw any light on issues concerning most to the state such as the CAA, the updated NRC which is currently caught up in a limbo, the fate of the Clause 6 committee report, pending demands of ST status to Assam’s six indigenous communities besides steps for tackling floods, erosion and securing land rights of the locals. The reason for the ‘silence’ is easily understandable. Prior to the 2016 Assembly elections in Assam, the saffron camp had made tall promises of solving the issue of ‘foreigners’ but in vain.
Five years later, the issue of infiltration continues to be unsolved and with the proposed implementation of CAA in the state, Assam is yet again left eying at an ‘unrest’.