Defend 1971 cut-off date for expelling illegal migrants: Assam Congress to President
In 1985, Parliament inserted Section 6A in the citizenship act, prescribing March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date for detection and deportation of foreigners in Assam.india Updated: May 07, 2017 20:30 IST
The Congress in Assam has requested President Pranab Mukherjee to defend a clause on expelling illegal immigrants that was inserted in the citizenship act of 1955 after the 1985 Assam Accord, which ended a six-year anti-foreigner movement, primarily against Bangladeshis.
The appeal was sent to the President on Saturday, ahead of a scheduled hearing on the issue by a five-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court on Monday.
In 1985, Parliament inserted Section 6A in the citizenship act, prescribing March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date for detection and deportation of foreigners in Assam. For other states, the year is 1951.
“We urge you to take necessary steps for defending Section 6A before the Supreme Court for protecting the rights of lakhs of people in Assam,” the state Congress party’s said in its plea to Mukherjee.
The Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha, an association representing the state’s indigenous people, challenged the validity of Section 6A in the top court in 2014.
The exercise to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) from May 2015 saw other organisations demanding 1951, and not 1971, as the cut-off year for deporting illegal immigrants who “threaten the existence of indigenous people”.
The demand gained momentum after the BJP formed a coalition government in Assam last May.
According to the Congress, the worst-affected people will be religious minorities who had fled to erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, during the 1947 Partition-linked riots in Assam.
“These people returned home after the Nehru-Liaquat Pact of 1950, whose validity was extended to 1958. In the meantime, the work for preparation of NRC (1951) was completed, and these people could not be enlisted in the NRC that year,” the Congress letter signed by state president Ripun Bora and legislature party chief Debabrata Saikia said.
The Assam Agitation between 1979 and 1985 against the influx of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants culminated in the accord on 1985 signed by leaders who spearheaded the movement. They included leaders of the All Assam Students’ Union and the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad.
“It was mutually agreed between the Centre and the unions that March 25, 1971, would be the cut-off date for detection and deportation of illegal migrants. The Assam-specific Section 6A was accordingly inserted in the citizenship act. Scrapping this cut-off date will be against the spirit of the Assam Accord,” Bora said.
On Monday, the top court’s constitutional bench will decide whether it can hear and complete the case of the validity of Section 6A between May 11 and 19.