‘Assam Has Already Missed the Bus, Deportation of Immigrants No Longer an Option’

Guwahati: Talking about the anti-foreigner agitation of the 1980s in Assam wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Hiranya Kumar Bhattacharyya, an Indian Police Service officer of the 1958 batch.
It was Bhattacharyya, posted as the DIG of the Assam Border Police in the late 1970s, who came up with thousands of names in the state’s voters’ list, particularly in the Mangaldoi assembly constituency, identifying them as “illegal immigrants from Bangladesh”. This act is often looked in Assam as to have given a fillip to the movement building up against ‘foreigners’, finally leading to the signing of the Assam Accord between the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the Indian government in 1985.
In 1981, over the course of the six-year-old students’ agitation, he was taken into preventive detention under the National Security Act (NSA) on the charges of fomenting a rebellion in Assam police in support of the agitation before finally losing his job.
Bhattacharyya contested his dismissal and won the case in 1996 after a long court battle. By then he had crossed the retirement age and couldn’t get his job back. The court reinstated his status as a retired IPS officer with all benefits. One of his many books, Betrayal of North East: the Arrested Voice, published in English in 2015.