Tarun Gogoi at the news conference in Guwahati on Friday. Picture by Eastern Projections
Guwahati, Aug. 22: The Tarun Gogoi government is preparing the first “white paper” on the raging foreigners issue in an attempt to bring the “real story” of influx to the people.
Taking on the Opposition, chief minister Gogoi today said the Congress government would “prove” (with facts and figures) that “our performance in detecting and deporting foreigners is much better than that of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP)”.
The chief minister, who briefed the media this afternoon, was calm but assertive as he said that the government was preparing a white paper which would nail the “lie” that the Congress government had failed to put a stop to illegal migration.
Gogoi said new measures would be taken to check influx and his government was open to suggestions from the public to check the problem.
CMO sources said preparations on the white paper had begun a month ago. “It will not be a bulky document. It will highlight the problem as well as what we have done in these seven years. We have started seeking views from departments and officials concerned,” a source said. The ground work to set up the expert committee to suggest ways and means to detect, detain and deport foreigners has begun and it will come into existence this month, he added.
“We have done more than we are given credit for and we will prove it with facts and figures. I have initiated the process of updating the National Register for Citizens. We have prepared the draft modalities and submitted it to the Centre. But one has to understand that there are procedures as the Centre will decide on that,” Gogoi said.
He questioned former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta on why the AASU, in 1984, did not accept the Centre’s offer of 1967 as the cut-off year before settling for 1971. “Why didn’t you accept 1967 if you were so keen on detecting and deporting foreigners? You should explain this to the people,” Gogoi asked of Mahanta who had scathingly criticised the chief minister for his failure to check influx.
Gogoi blamed the AASU, AGP and the BJP for the unrest in Udalguri that left six persons dead, 34 injured and 54 houses burnt. “It is unfortunate. Around 14,000 people had to take shelter in nine relief camps. The situation is fast returning to normal as seven of the camps have been dismantled but this happened because of the belligerent approach of the AASU, AGP and BJP.”
The influx issue was revived after Gauhati High Court observed that Bangladeshis would soon become kingmakers in Assam and that the state government had failed to solve the problem. Hundreds of suspected Bangladeshis were rounded up by AASU activists in several parts of the state, sparking tension and protests by Muslim organisations about Indians being harassed in the name of detecting foreigners.
The violence in Udalguri was triggered after activists of the Muslim Students Union of Assam tried to enforce a bandh last Thursday in protest against the alleged harassment of Indians.
The ruling Congress maintained that it was against foreigners but stressed that harassment of genuine citizens should be avoided.