35 Years of Assam Accord : What is it and what did it bring for Barak Valley?
14th August, 2020 marks 35 years of the signing of the historic Assam Accord between the Government of India, the Government of Assam and the leaders of the Assam Agitation.
BY AKASH BHATTACHARJEE
14th August, 2020 marks 35 years of the signing of the historic Assam Accord between the Government of India, the Government of Assam and the leaders of the Assam Agitation (including members of the All Assam Students’ Union and the All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad). The Accord, which was publically proclaimed on 15th August, 1985 by the then Prime Minister of India, Shri Rajiv Gandhi, brought to end the Assam Agitation (or the Assam Movement).
There is a perception that the accord represented only the Assamese speaking population of Brahmaputra Valley, but this perception of the Assam Accord (or of the Assam Agitation for that matter) is not accurate. While talking about the Assam Agitation, many talk about how Bengalis were attacked by fringe mobs in the agitation. But what many people ignore or forget to mention is that many Bengalis had joined the agitation whole-heartedly, and many of the 855 martyrs of the Assam Agitation were in fact Bengalis, one of them being Madan Mallick. Member of Legislative Assembly from Hojai, Shiladitya Dev once noted that 34 of the 855 Martyrs of the Assam Agitation were in fact Bengali (statement subject to scrutiny). This brings out a completely different image of the Assam Agitation and the Assam Accord.
The Assam Accord mainly promised the protection of the indigenous people and culture of Assam, the detection and deportation of foreigners from Assam, and social, cultural, economic and educational development of the state. Again, there is a perception that these benefits were aimed only towards the Assamese-majority Brahmaputra Valley. But a deeper inspection of the provisions of the Assam Accord will show us that Barak Valley was also benefitted by the accord in some ways.
The 7th Clause of the Assam Accord states that “The Government takes this opportunity to renew their commitment for the speedy all round economic development of Assam, so as to improve the standard of living of the people. Special emphasis will be placed on education and science & technology through establishment of national institutions.” A brief look into the Assam Government’s website dedicated to the Assam Accord would tell us that the establishment of a Central University at Silchar (the Assam University) was influenced by the 7th Clause of the Assam Accord. There is almost an unanimous agreement among the people of the valley that the Assam University has been very beneficial for the people of the valley. Thus, one can say that the Assam Accord was indeed beneficial for the people of Barak Valley in some aspects.
With the issue of the implementation of the 6th Clause of the Assam Accord gaining focus over the last few days, the Assam Accord has once again come back to the forefront of Assamese politics. It remains to be seen how the government decides to move forward with the implementation of the various provisions of the Assam Accord which had been sidelined by successive regimes over the years.