Minority party sounds caution on migration issue in Assam

August 6th, 2008 - 6:41 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party

Guwahati, Aug 6 (IANS) A frontline minority group in Assam has cautioned the government and those campaigning for action against illegal migration not to victimize any genuine citizen in the name of detection and expulsion of aliens from the area. “We are against the entry or stay of illegal migrants from Bangladesh. But, harassment of genuine citizens in the name of detection and deportation of such migrants cannot be accepted,” Badruddin Ajmal, president of the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF), said Wednesday.

The statement comes after Bangladeshi national Mohammed Kamruddin alias Kamaluddin was arrested and pushed back to Bangladesh this week following a court reference that he illegally contested state elections in Assam in 1996.

The police arrested him in the wake of a Gauhati High Court observation last month that the Assam government has not done enough to stop migration and detect illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

Local media reports, however, quoted residents of Kamruddin’s village, Moirajhar in the central Nagaon district, as saying that he has siblings in the area and that he was a genuine citizen.

The anti-migrant stir has gained momentum after the court ruling with various groups, including the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), the main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), threatening agitation if the government failed to stop the influx from across the border and take steps to detect and oust illegal Bangladeshi migrants from Assam.

The Assam police, with support from various groups, have since arrested up to 30 suspected illegal Bangladeshi migrants from various parts of the state in the past few days.

The AUDF maintains that action cannot be initiated against religious minorities just on the assumption that they could be illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

“We are against providing shelter to any illegal migrant from Bangladesh. But any action such as pushing back or deportation must be carried out within the existing legal framework,” Ajmal said.

The AUDF chief said the government must immediately upgrade the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and issue identity cards to all citizens.

“This will help genuine citizens avoid unnecessary harassment,” he said.

The party has suggested setting up village-level monitoring committees to detect infiltrators.

The AASU had led a six-year-long agitation against illegal Bangladeshi migrants between 1979 and 1985. The uprising ended with the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985 that fixed March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date for detection and expulsion of the illegal aliens.

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