December 17, 2016 5:22:11 am
Assam health and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday said about 2.8 lakh foreigners who had re-entered Assam during 1971 after they were expelled during 1965-67 had multiplied into about 30 lakh, and all other citizens of the state should stand united against the “aggression” of these infiltrators.
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“Over 2.8 lakh people who were expelled from Assam during the then chief minister BP Chaliah’s time in 1965-67 had re-entered during the Bangladesh liberation movement, and they have now grown to over 30 lakh. These people do not have record of continuous residency in Assam between 1961 and 1981. All other people of Assam should stand united against this battle against Bangladeshis,” Sarma said.
Speaking at a day-long consultation on Constitutional safeguards to the Assamese people under the Assam Accord of 1985, Sarma said though the original demand of the AASU-led agitation of 1979-85 was to consider 1951 as base year for detecting and deporting infiltrators, the then AASU leaders settled for 1971 as a compromise. “This led to accepting migrants from 1951 to 1971 in Assam, which included over three lakh who had re-entered after they were expelled in 1965-67,” he said.
“These three lakh, along with all those who infiltrated between 1951 and 1971 and their progeny cannot be allowed to snatch away our rights over land and property. Our struggle today is to survive against the onslaught of these people. Clause 6 of the Assam Accord provides for safeguards against these people,” Sarma said.
The senior BJP minister also said that the infiltrators were trying to use Assamese language as a licence to claim Indian citizenship. “Some of our people think these infiltrators are doing a great service to us by attending Assamese schools and stating Assamese as their mother tongue during the Census. Our language cannot be a licence to citizenship. It is their strategy,” Sarma said.
He also said that these people should not be “spared” just because they claim to speak, read and write in Assamese. “Bangladeshis are reading and writing in Assamese and claiming to be neo-Assamese. This is a strategic ploy to carry forward their political and demographic aggression. Should we spare them just because they speak, read and write in Assamese ?” Sarma said.
Emphasising that influx had led to serious demographic changes Sarma said the change was most evident in the changes the Assam Legislative Assembly had undergone in its demographic composition. “The State Assembly has undergone demographic changes. Leaders like Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and Bhrigu Kumar Phukan who had signed the Assam Accord in 1985 must have never imagined that the demographic change would be so rapidly visible in the Assembly,” he said.
Protection of land a priority: Sarbananda Sonowal
Earlier, speaking in the round-table, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said protecting the land of indigenous communities was a top priority of his government.“Without land there can be no existence of the Assamese race and it is the government’s fundamental duty to protect the land for the original dwellers of the state. There will be compromise on this,” Sonowal said.
Describing influx as a huge challenge before Assam, Sonowal said his government was committed to implement the Assam Accord and ensure a sense of security among all people of the state. “Our government is committed to do the needful to implement the Assam Accord and protect the people,” he said.
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