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Gogoi sees red over new migrant report

Guwahati, May 19: A new Raj Bhavan report on illegal migration to Assam, reminiscent of the one compiled by the present governor’s predecessor a few years ago, has provoked chief minister Tarun Gogoi into labelling it a worthless document based on hearsay rather than facts.

Lt Gen. (retd) Ajai Singh had ostensibly compiled the report for a conclave of governors convened by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, but the meeting was cancelled. The document, which was allegedly leaked to the media, expresses concern over large-scale infiltration from across the border with Bangladesh.

Gogoi described Gen. Singh’s observations as “sweeping comments” that have not been backed by evidence. “We would have examined the report had it contained facts,” he said during a media briefing on the occasion of his government completing four years in office.

The chief minister’s strong reaction to the governor’s report came amid an anti-migrant campaign in Upper Assam. The movement began with a youth organisation of Dibrugarh announcing “economic sanctions” against Bangladeshi migrants, triggering an exodus of suspected illegal settlers from the town.

Gogoi said: “I had not given any importance to the report submitted to the Centre by the previous governor, S.K. Sinha, on the issue of infiltration and I am not according any importance to this report, too.”

He claimed illegal migration was actually down to a trickle and his government was committed to stopping it totally. “It is with the aim of getting rid of illegal migrants that my government has committed itself to updating the National Register of Citizens within two years with March 25, 1971, as the cut-off year.”

The chief minister said Gen. Singh’s report was creating confusion among the people. He fired a salvo at the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for allegedly fuelling the oust-Bangladeshi campaign in the state and creating a communal divide.

“They are trying to create a Godhra-like situation in the state, but we will not allow this to happen in the land of Srimanta Sankardev and Ajan Fakir,” Gogoi said.

The chief minister said he had no doubt that the BJP was behind the anti-migrant campaign launched by the Chiring Chapori Juba Mancha in Dibrugarh. “BJP leader Pramod Mahajan is the brain behind the SMS campaign.”

The youth organisation had used SMS to urge people not to engage the services of illegal migrants or accept them as tenants. The campaign began on April 25.

Gogoi insisted that those who fled Upper Assam over the past couple of weeks were “genuine Indian citizens”. He said the Congress government would initiate appropriate action against Mahajan if he continued trying to create a communal divide.

On how the government intended to rid Assam of illegal migrants, he said “thana-level committees” had been formed to detect and deport these people. “If anyone has a complaint, they should register the same with the district authorities concerned and we will ascertain the nationality of the suspect and inform the complainant about the findings within a month.”

The chief minister said insurgency was a bigger problem than infiltration.

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