| AASU activists protest in Guwahati on Wednesday. Picture by Eastern Projections |
Guwahati, Aug. 6: The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) today upped the ante on the foreigners’ issue, demanding a list of persons who were issued passports by the regional passport office here in the past two years.
The AASU’s demand was made by its leadership during a dharna staged by hundreds of its activists in front of the passport office to protest against the issuance of passports to alleged illegal migrants.
AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya said besides the list, the students’ body has also sought punishment of the guilty officers who issued a passport to Md Abdul Hasim, a Bangladeshi citizen.
“They (passport officials) said they would submit their report to the court and promised to give us the list. We will, however, keep a close watch, as the issue is serious,” he said.
Bhattacharyya said a genuine citizen has to go through so many obstacles to acquire a passport while foreigners were getting the same with ease.
“Some corrupt officials issue passports to suspected citizens without proper verification of documents,” AASU general secretary Tapan Gogoi said, while dubbing such passport officials as “anti-national”.
In a recent order, Gauhati High Court while upholding the order of the foreigners’ tribunal declaring Md Abdul Hasim a foreigner, had wondered how he could acquire a passport at a time when his case was pending before the tribunal. The court has listed the case for hearing on September 30.
The court has directed the regional passport office as well as the ministry of external affairs to furnish reports as to what measures they proposed to take in issuance of passports so that there was no “repetition of this nature in future”.
Armed with the July 23 court order, AASU has declared a series of agitation programmes from today against the state government’s failure to identify and deport illegal migrants from Bangladesh. The protest at the passport office was a part of the agitation programme.
Hundreds of activists from different districts today joined the protest rally, the AASU general secretary said.
Tapan Gogoi said the union would pressure the government to take action against officials involved in issuing vital documents like ration cards and passports to illegal migrants in lieu of bribes.
“Unless stern action is taken against these officials, Bangladeshis will continue to enter Assam and Assamese people would turn into a minority very soon,” he said.