The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1986

Anupama Roy

in Mapping Citizenship in India

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780198066743
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080069 | DOI:
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1986

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This chapter examines the politics of place-making, the marking out of ethno-spaces, and the setting in motion of a process whereby citizenship's association with descent is affirmed. Since the amendment in the Citizenship Act pertained specifically to the state of Assam in northeastern India, it examines the complex reconfiguration of political forces and unfolding of power relations between the central government and the state of Assam on the question of definition and identification of illegal migrants, through the Assam Accord of 1985, the Citizenship Amendment Act of 1986, the contests around the Illegal Migrants Determination by Tribunal Act (IMDT) of 1983, and the Supreme Court judgment in August 2005 striking it down. The chapter shows how the illegality/alien-ness of the migrant became central to the construction of the Assamese identity in the 1980s and how the ‘migrant’ figured in precarious relationships of consensus and antagonism with the ‘citizen’, depending on the nature of political/electoral contests between the centre and state governments. It also shows how these contests produced the migrants as the ‘constitutive outsiders’ — as ‘residual citizens’ — who occupied a perpetual zone of uncertain, suspect, and indeterminate citizenship.

Keywords: citizenship; India; place-making; ethno-spaces; Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1986; migrants; Assam; illegal migrants; Illegal Migrants Determination by Tribunal Act of 1983

Chapter.  18210 words. 

Subjects: Indian Politics

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