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BJP migrant rath set to roll

Guwahati, March 24: Ignoring protests by an assortment of “secular” political parties and organisations, the BJP is going ahead with a four-pronged rathyatra across Assam from tomorrow to mobilise support for its campaign against the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act.

The raths will roll out from the four corners of Assam — Sadiya, Jonai, Karimganj and Dhubri — and converge on the capital. Along the way, BJP leaders will highlight the “twin problems of infiltration and increased ISI activity” in the state.

The influential All-Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and organisations representing the minorities fear that the yatra will cause friction between communities, though Dispur claims to have taken all possible steps to maintain peace and communal harmony.

“The IM(DT) Act is just a pretext. The BJP actually intends to rake up issues that spark communalism. It is a sign of desperation, given the fact that its support base is dwindling,” United Minority Front (UMF) president Hafiz Rashid Choudhury said.

The minority leader argued that a rathyatra to mobilise public opinion against the IM(DT) Act was irrelevant at this juncture because the issue had already been taken up by the Supreme Court. “The matter is sub judice. We cannot fathom what such yatras will achieve apart from fomenting communal tension,” he said.

The UMF leader criticised the Congress government for allowing the BJP to go ahead with its “jana jagaran yatras”. The party had asked Dispur not to allow the BJP to undertake any programme that could cause tension in the state.

“We submitted a representation to chief minister Tarun Gogoi in December and sent a reminder a few weeks ago, but he has not responded. The Congress government seemingly lacks the sincerity and courage to counter the communal designs of the BJP,” the UMF president said.

The UMF is opposed to the idea of scrapping the IM(DT) Act, which it views as a “foolproof” legislation devised to protect minorities from discrimination in the name of detecting and deporting illegal migrants.

The AASU, on the other hand, has been at the forefront of the campaign for revocation of the contentious Act. However, it does not subscribe to the BJP’s view that a rathyatra is the best way to mobilise public opinion against the legislation.

AASU leader Probin Boro told The Telegraph that if the BJP were sincere, its leaders at the Centre would have made bold moves to scrap the Act by now.

While the AASU and the UMF pulled no punches in criticising the saffron brigade, the Congress government was relatively circumspect.

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