Proving Citizenship? A Movement, A Massacre, The Assam Accord

In late 1979 a mass movement emerged in Assam against illegal immigrants who were fast filling up the state. In the present NRC struggle for proving citizenship,  this movement deserves a special mention to know the history of the state.

So here’s a glimpse of the half a decade long Assam Movement where the Assam Parishad and the Trade Unions played a major role.


  •  Hiralal Patawari constituency up for re-election after his death in 1978.
  • Large number of excess voters found in the constituency who were illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
  •  All Assam Students Union’s leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta takes it up and demanded postponement of the elections. 
  •   AASU demanded erasing of foreign nationals names from the electoral rolls.
  • Appeals of Indo-Bangladesh border to be sealed and thus the movement takes shape.
  • The movement takes bigger shape as AASU advises political parties not to contest elections and file nominations.
  • 27th November 1979 – AASU and Assam Fans Sangram Parishad call for picketing government offices and closing down education institutions.
  • December 1979 – Mass picketing in polling offices to stop filing of nominations.
  • 10th December: Observed as bandh no nominations allowed to be submitted on the last day. Curfew imposed on the state including Guwahati. 
  • 22 year old AASU secretary of Barpeta unit, Khargeswar Talukdar dies in the hands of Assam police as he was protesting at the nomination filing center of Barpeta. Bagan Abida Ahmed the candidate was escorted by the then IGP K.P.S. Gill led  police force  
  • Talukdar whose body was thrown into a ditch along the highway in Bhabanipur was declared the movement’s first martyr.
  • Another turning point came in October 1982 – AASU’s Anil Bora died in the hands of Hojai people who opposed the movement.
  • Violence erupted in the state because of this resulting in the brutal killing of 2191 immigrants by a mob of indigenous people in February, 1983. 
  • Nellie Massacre: Nagaon villages where Bora was killed was stormed by these people with knives and daggers who killed women and children.  
  • The Movement suffered a setback as the government passes the Illegal Migrants ( Determination by Tribunals ) Act in October 1983, 4 years after the struggle.
  • Implementation begins  to protect illegal immigrants coming from Bangladesh, even after 1971.
  • 1984: AASU and Assam Parishad started negotiating with the government. 
  • 1985: Formal talks started in May and went on for 3 months with the Assam coalition demanding immigrants from 1961 onwards to be eradicated.
  • They softened their stand to 1966 onwards immigrants in August, 1985 who are to be detected and deported in 10 years.
  • Finally the Assam Accord was signed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on 15th August, 1985
  • The Accord gave citizenship rights to immigrants who came to the state from 1946 to 1971
  • The Accord’s clause number 6 gives precedence to the rights of the indigenous people of Assam before others
  • 855 deaths in this 6 year long struggles.
  • Movement comes to an end when Asom Gana Parishad wins the 1985 elections led by Prafulla Kumar Mahanta.
  • The movement officially ended on 15th August, 1985.
  • However, the Assam Accord was never fully implemented according to its true spirits


After Note

  • 2005: Supreme Court strikes down the act on grounds of harassing minorities who supported the movement.
  • Act alleged behind the rise of Muslims in the state as the procedure mentioned in the act made it difficult to detect and deport immigrants
  • Immigrants to be dealt according to the 1946 act says the supreme court.

Images Taken from AAI Assami. Copyright to them



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