Be cautious with anti-migrants drive: Assam minority groups

August 9th, 2008 - 1:17 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party
By Syed Zarir Hussain
Guwahati, Aug 9 (IANS) Frontline minority groups in Assam have cautioned the government to not allow student groups and political parties to take the law into their hands by hounding suspected illegal migrants as part of the “anti-foreigners” drive. “It would have dangerous ramifications if groups and individuals were allowed to take law into their own hands. It has been noticed that several organisations in recent days were engaged in a drive to round up people alleging they were illegal migrants,” said Badruddin Ajmal, leader of the Assam Jamiat Ulema and president of the Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF).

During the past week, activists of the All Assam Student’s Union (AASU) and the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chattra Parishad (AJYCP) rounded up about 100 suspected Bangladeshis from various parts of the state and handed them over to the police.

“It is the government’s responsibility to detect and expel foreigners. We also want that anybody who came after March 25, 1971 be detected and then deported to Bangladesh,” Ajmal said.

“But simply catching someone on the basis of their language or religion would have serious consequences if not checked immediately.”

The infiltration issue is on the boil in Assam after the Guwahati High Court recently pronounced a verdict declaring 61 people foreigners, after which police swung into action and began a drive to arrest the accused and push them back across the border.

“We also want foreigners to be deported, but then genuine Indians should not be harassed in the name of hounding migrants,” said Wajed Ali Choudhury, leader of the minority cell of the Assam Congress party.

Meanwhile, there were some 386,000 cases pending before various Foreigners Tribunals in Assam for hearing.

The state government too has cautioned the opposition not to communalise the issue.

“It is unfortunate that parties like the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and the AGP (Asom Gana Parishad) were trying to dub all Muslims as foreigners. If that is the case then even genuine Muslims in Assam would oppose the anti-foreigners drive,” Assam government spokesperson and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told IANS.

“We must defeat the design of the BJP in particular to dub all Muslims as foreigners. Foreigner is a foreigner, be it a Hindu or a Muslim.”

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