Arunachal students ask Bangladeshis to leave, trigger violence

September 19th, 2008 - 11:44 am ICT by IANS  

Itanagar, Sep 19 (IANS) The citizenship row in Assam has spilled over to adjoining Arunachal Pradesh with an influential students’ group serving quit notices to illegal Bangladeshis, triggering a violent reaction from minority organisations in the bordering areas.On Thursday, an estimated 10,000 supporters of the All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) resorted to an impromptu blockade on the National Highway 52 along Assam - the lifeline of the landlocked state of Arunachal Pradesh.

The student protestors halted traffic to and from Arunachal Pradesh, besides vandalising a few vehicles bearing Arunachal Pradesh registration numbers and physically assaulting some passengers.

The immediate provocation for the highway blockade and the subsequent assaults was a quit notice served by the All Nyishi Students Union (ANSU), an influential students’ organisation of Arunachal Pradesh, asking all illegal Bangladeshis to leave the state immediately. The notice was served earlier this month, but on Sep 12 ANSU supporters started taking law into their hands and went about physically evicting people belonging to a linguistic minority group.

“Genuine Indians who were working as contract workers and daily wage earners were forcibly driven out with the law enforcing authorities a mute spectator to the entire drama,” Ziaur Rahman, an AAMSU leader, told IANS.

“This was nothing but unnecessary and unlawful harassment of minorities from Assam living in Arunachal Pradesh,” he added.

The situation was brought under control with police from both Assam and Arunchal Pradesh brokering peace with AAMSU activists by assuring that no genuine Indians would be harassed in the name of detecting and expelling Bangladeshis.

Meanwhile, Arunachal Pradesh Home Minister Jarbom Gamlin said there were about 8,000 Bangladeshi migrants in the state.

The ANSU’s drive to free the state from illegal migrants was supported by the government. “We support any move to free our state of migrants,” Nabam Tuki, president of the state unit of the ruling Congress party, said.

The ANSU, fearing a backlash from the AAMSU in adjoining Assam, clarified that they were not targeting people of a particular religious community.

“We have made our intentions very clear. The drive was launched to free the state of illegal Bangladeshi migrants, not to harm or harass anyone,” ANSU president Niglar Veo said.

But one thing is for sure, the repercussions of the anti-foreigners uprising in Assam spearheaded by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) is being felt in the adjoining state although the drive against Bangladeshis has never been an easy one with the politics of citizenship reigning supreme in this region.

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