The BJP-led government in Assam has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to families of 855 persons who died while taking part in the movement led by All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) from 1979 to 1985 to detect and deport Bangladeshi infiltrators.
The government will give away cheques to members of these families on December 10, the day student leader Khargeswar Talukdar was killed in 1979 when police used force on protesters staging a blockade at Bhabanipur in Barpeta. AASU activists had staged the blockade to prevent Begum Abida Ahmed, a Congress candidate and widow of former president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, from filing nomination for an election.
The date to distribute cheques was finalised in a meeting between government officials and AASU Wednesday. The government also entrusted AASU with the task of preparing the list of persons who would receive the cheques on behalf of the families.
The AASU movement had culminated in the signing of the Assam Accord on August 14, 1985, which provided, among other things, for detection and expulsion of all Bangladeshi persons who infiltrated into Assam after March 25, 1971. But while tribunals identified over 38,000 persons as infiltrators and ordered their expulsion, most of them remained “untraced.”
“We welcome the government’s decision. We are also looking forward to the government’s promise of providing support to those who suffered major physical injury due to police action during the movement,” said AASU’s chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharyya.
However, he said the Narendra Modi government’s push to grant citizenship to Hindus and other minorities from Bangladesh and Pakistan has caused resentment in Assam. “The BJP had promised to provide constitutional, legal, social and cultural safeguard to indigenous communities on the basis of Assam Accord. Its move to amend the Citizenship Act and provide citizenship to one section of Bangladeshis is contradictory and dangerous,” he said.