Speaking in the state assembly, Sarma said that there is a lot of wrong notions regarding 1971 as the cut-off date.
Guwahati: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday said that the Citizenship Amendment Act neither violates nor dilutes the Assam Accord, but is aimed at resolving one of the many “unresolved issues” not addressed when the historic accord was signed.
Putting forward his party’s stand, Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed that if census data is any indicator, the Hindu Bengali population was not a threat to the Assamese language.
Speaking in the state assembly, Mr Sarma said that there is a lot of wrong notions regarding 1971 as the cut-off date.
Clause 5 of the Assam Accord mentions that “all persons who came to Assam prior to January 1, 1966, including those amongst them whose name appeared on the electoral rolls used in 1967 elections, shall be regularized” and that “for purposes of detection and deletion of foreigners, January 1, 1966, shall be the base date and year”.
Pointing out that the Assam Accord was not an all-encompassing document and even the NRC update was not part of the Assam Accord, Mr Sarma said, “The idea of updating the NRC evolved as a concept post-Assam Accord. It was one of the unresolved issues of the Assam Accord.”
He said that the Accord was silent on issues like the status of children of the post-1971 illegal immigrants.
“Similarly, the Assam Accord spoke about giving considerations to the difficulties regarding the IM (DT) Act and not about repeal or scrapping of that Act,” he said.
Saying that the Assam Accord failed to resolve the issue of differentiating between economic migrants and those who have entered the country on account of religious persecution, Mr Sarma argued that the CAA is going to resolve the unresolved issue of religious prosecutions.
Countering the charges of violating the commitment of the Assam Accord, Mr Sarma said that the Citizenship Act was amended by Congress governments in 1987 and 1992 facilitating children of foreigners to become Indian citizens and that discrepancy was only resolved when the Act was again amended in 2003 by the Vajpayee government.
“Similarly, the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the IM (DT) Act resolved that point. Now we have addressed another unresolved issue, that of Hindu Bangladeshis,” said Mr Sarma.
“Which Clause of the Assam Accord states that 1971 is the cut-off date? As per Clause 5 of the Accord ‘for purposes of detection and deletion of foreigners, 1.1.1966 shall be the base date and year’. It also states that all persons who came to Assam prior to 1.1.1966, including those amongst them whose name appeared on the electoral rolls used in 1967 elections, shall be regularized. And it also states that foreigner s who came to Assam after 1.1.1966 and up to March 24, 1971, shall be detected in accordance with the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order 1964,” the minister quoted from the text of the Assam Accord.