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BJP flays govt ‘refugee’ stand

Guwahati, April 27: The BJP today accused Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi of safeguarding the interests of illegal migrants.

Gogoi said in a news conference on April 23 the migrants, who were compelled to leave their country because of some valid reasons, “deserved” humanitarian consideration, irrespective of their religion.

Reacting to Gogoi’s statement, Assam BJP spokesman Siddharth Bhattacharya today said the chief minister was trying to safeguard the interests of the illegal migrants for the sake of vote-bank politics.

Asked about BJP’s stand on the issue, he said the party wanted those Hindus who had migrated from Bangladesh in the wake of religious persecution should be allowed to stay on as refugees, but those immigrants who had illegally crossed over to the country for economic reasons should be identified and deported.

“Even the statement of objects and reasons of the Immigrants (Expulsion From Assam) Act, 1950, says the act shall not apply to any persons who have been displaced or have left their place owing to civil disturbance in Pakistan,” Bhattacharya said in a bid to justify his party’s stand on Hindu refugees.

Expressing concern over the fast changing demography of Assam in the wake of illegal influx, he said it was unfortunate that an elected government had taken such a stand on the sensitive issue, which has posed a serious threat to the security and integrity of India besides creating an identity crisis among the indigenous communities.

Gogoi had taken up this issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the latter’s recent visit to the state and had stressed the need for adopting a humane approach while dealing with the refugees.

The Assam government’s stand has opened a Pandora’s box since infiltration from the neighbouring country remains a hugely sensitive issue in the state. It had also triggered the anti-foreigners movement that culminated in the 1985 Assam Accord.

Many also see in the move the Congress’s attempt to woo the Muslim and Bengali Hindus before the panchayat and Lok Sabha elections.