Political Movement in Assam

The Assam Movement was a popular movement against giving citizenship rights to illegal immigrants who had come from Bangladesh. The peak of the movement was during 1979-1985. In 1978 as by election necessitated by death of MP Hiralal Patowary in a small town called Mangaldai revealed that the voter population had risen by an unnaturally large number since last election.

All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP), started protests and demonstration to compel the government to identify and expel illegal immigrants. The agitation programs were largely non-violent, but there were cases of extreme violence like the Nellie Massacre. The agitation ended in August 1985 following the Assam Accord, which was signed by leaders of AASU-AAGSP and the Government of India.

AAGSP later morphed into AGP (Assam Gana Parishad) which is a major political party in Assam and a partner of the Ruling BJP coalition. The impact of this movement is still felt in Assam. Some of the positive impacts are: Assam was granted a central university at Tezpur as an indirect result of the agitation. The AGP won power after the agitation and some development works were carried out till they were in power during their first term.

The direct impact was that it brought the illegal immigrant issue into national news and now they are legitimate election issues on the national level. There were bad effects as well, like the insurgency which has ravaged Assam since then, but an analysis of those is not in the scope.

Political impact and aftermath of Assam agitation was:

Asom Gana Parishad was formed out of AAGSP. Following signing of the Assam Accord the Hiteshwar government was dismissed and fresh elections were held in 1985 where AGP won. The Assam agitation slit open the diverse state of Assam into a battleground of community and identity politics. Oppression of the native Bodo community during the movement years proved to be disastrous and gave rise to the demand for Bodoland in the later years. The United Liberation Front of Assam was also created in the backdrop of the Assam agitation. The objective of the outfit was to secede from India and establish a socialist and sovereign state and to drive away all non- Assamese from the state. The ensuing years and the rise of ULFA as a terrorist organization as well the damage done to the region is for everyone to see.

The Assam Accord till date has not been fully implemented. Each successive government has made it a part of their campaign narrative but actual work done is not substantial. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) remains the last hope for the people of the state so that the objectives of the Assam Agitation are fulfilled in a true sense.

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