Guwahati, Sept. 13: Gauhati High Court has asked the state and central governments to state their position on the issue of rehabilitation of the riot-affected in BTAD vis-à-vis detection of illegal migrants among the relief camp inmates.
The court did so in response to a PIL filed by Assam Tribal Sangha seeking its intervention in getting the rehabilitation process of the BTAD riot-affected monitored so that no illegal immigrant uses it to settle in the state.
The sangha’s general secretary, Aditya Khaklari, disclosed this to reporters today adding that a division bench of Justice Amitava Roy and Justice Anima Hazarika had admitted the PIL on Tuesday and asked the Centre, Assam government, Election Commission of India and Bodoland Territorial Council, among others, to file affidavits on the issues raised in the petition by September 21.
Khaklari said they wanted only those who had land documents and their names in the 1971 voter list to be rehabilitated in BTAD. In the PIL, the sangha alleged that illegal migrants from Bangladesh were making their way into the relief camps, taking advantage of the prevailing turmoil and uncertainty and were trying to illegally stake claim to the relief package announced for the genuine riot-affected Indian citizens. They alleged that the illegal migrants were trying to secure Indian citizenship by claiming to be Indian citizens displaced by the riots.
“The authorities, for reasons best known to them, are trying to hurriedly close down the relief camps and, therefore, seeking to rehabilitate such persons,” the PIL said. “People seeking rehabilitation ought to be subjected to stringent and strict scrutiny on account of the doubtful citizenship of a section of the inmates of the relief camps so as to ensure that no Bangladeshi national can take benefit of the rehabilitation scheme.”
On September 2, a joint meeting of various organisations representing the Bodo and other ethnic communities of the state, held at the headoffice of Bodo Sahitya Sabha at Kokrajhar, had authorised the sangha to move the high court on this important issue.
Apart from the sangha, representatives of organisations such as the Bodo Sahitya Sabha, Bodoland Citizens Forum, All Bodo Women’s Welfare Association, Bodo Women’s Justice Forum, All Assam Tribal Youth League and All Surrendered NDFB Welfare Association, among others, had attended the meeting.
The petitioners submitted before the court that the northeastern states had been facing the problem of illegal influx from Bangladesh for a long time and despite various initiatives by the Centre and the state government, the problem had not been resolved.
According to them, illegal influx had changed the region’s demography and also threatened national security.
Describing illegal infiltration as an act of invasion/aggression against the state, the petitioners contended that the alleged efforts to rehabilitate the illegal migrants necessitated the high court’s intervention under Article 225 of the Constitution. They urged the court to direct the respondents not to rehabilitate any illegal migrant or any person of doubtful citizenship taking shelter in the relief camps and to take immediate steps to identify and ascertain the citizenship of all the inmates.