By Mondip Chutia
The Assam Agitation was a movement against the illegal immigrants in Assam which took place between 1979-85.
The movement was led by All Assam Students Union(AASU). The agitation was ended in August 1985 by following the Assam accord signed between AASU and Assam Gana Sangram Parishad(AAGSP) with the Government of India led by Rajiv Gandhi.
Why the movement started?
In 1978, MP Hiralal Patwari dead during his office and hence re-election was going to held in Mangaldoi Constituency. During the process of re-election, the Election Commission observed an abrupt increase in the number of registered voters.
Immediately AASU taken up the matter and demanded to postponed the election until the illegal citizens were to be detected. This was the beginning of Assam Agitation. Consequently, AASU also warned all the political parties not to take part in the election unless the illegal immigrants removed.
AASU and AAGSP combined called for the closure of all educational institutions and picketing in state and central government offices. No candidates were allowed to file nomination papers in the Brahmaputra valley.
The first Martyr of Assam Agitation:
10 December 1979 was the last date of submitting the nomination papers. AASU and AAGSP declared statewide bandh on that day. In Barpeta, the then IGP, led the police force in escorting Bagum Abida Ahmed to file nomination papers. In that case the police and the protesters came in front of each other and the police attacked the protesters. Khargeswar Talukdar, the then General Secretary of Barpeta AASU unit was beaten to death. Talukdar has been honoured by the AASU as the first martyr of Assam agitation.
After death of Khargeswar Talukdar, the indigenous people of Assam became violent. In February 1983, around 2191 bengali speaking people from Nellore, Nagaon were killed by the indigenous people. This incident is called as Nellore Massacre. The perpetrators were believed to be Assamese tribals.
In October 1983, the parliament passed the Illegal Migrants( Determination by Tribunals)(IMDT) Act and began to implement it in Assam to protect the illegal immigrants who continued to come to Assam even after 1971.
What is IMDT Act 1983?
It was an act passed by the parliament that describes the procedures to detect illegal immigrants and expel them from Assam. Basically the act provided special protection against undue harassment to the minorities affected by Assam agitation. The Act was only made for Assam, while in other states, detection of foreigners is done under the Foreigners Act 1946. The act made it difficult to deport illegal immigrants from Assam.
Finally, negotiations took place between the government and AASU-AAGSP. After several rounds of talks took place during May, June and July 1985, an agreement was signed between the GoI and AASU-AAGSP on 15th August, 1985. This agreement is called as Assam Accord.