Assam: The Accord, The Discord
Author: Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty
9780670091553 | HB | pp.272 | 2019 | Penguin India
Assam: The Accord, The Discord diligently chronicles the Assam movement that erupted in 1979 and the events leading up to the signing of the Accord on the intervening night of 14-15 August 1985 and after.
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The Assam Accord, which sought to end a six-year-long agitation against illegal immigrants in Assam, was signed between members of the All Assam Students Union (AASU), and state and central governments just a few hours before Rajiv Gandhi was to deliver the Independence Day address in 1985. Immediately afterwards, the student leaders were catapulted from their hostel rooms into the corridors of power. Their party, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), was voted to power the same year, with Prafulla Kumar Mahanta becoming the youngest ever chief minister of an Indian state.
Key clauses of the Assam Accord remained unimplemented during Mahanta’s often controversial tenures (1985-1990, 1996-2001), and through three terms of Congress rule, which ended with the BJP’s victory in the state in 2016. Central to the Accord was deportation of those who could not prove their roots in India prior to 24 March 1971. In 2015, the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) based on the 1971 cut-off of the Accord began. The first list was released in December 2017, and did not include 14 million names.
Assam: The Accord, The Discord looks at the making of the Assam Accord and its long shadow on the state, through political gamesmanship between principle players, periods of ULFA and Bodo militancies, and right-wing propaganda that has split the state along communal lines.
Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty
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