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Absu for migrant work visa
- Bodo student group suggests 12 steps on foreigners issue

New Delhi, Nov. 28: The All Bodo Students Union (Absu) has suggested short-term work permits or work visas for migrants from Bangladesh to resolve the issue of illegal migration.

The Absu has recommended 12 steps, including update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) by December 2013.

The student union’s has drafted its list of recommendations, a copy of which is with The Telegraph, on the basis of a recently held seminar, Conflict in Bodoland, Issue of Influx and Land Alienation in Assam: Problems and Perspective.

Some of the recommendations are — consider illegal migration as a national issue; update NRC; ensure constitutional protection of tribal, scheduled and non-scheduled ethnic groups with historic roots in Assam through reservation of seats; and consider issuing work permits.

“Issuing short-term work permits (work visas) for those seeking to enter the region from Bangladesh or other countries as part of the labour force can be considered to prevent illegal migration and to ensure that movements across the borders are documented,” the recommendation states. It adds that these permits would not have any encumbrance of property or other rights though those such as right to life are inalienable, as the Supreme Court has held.

The suggestion comes at a time when the foreigners issue is being revived in Assam with the people demanding implementation of the Assam Accord.

However, former special director of Intelligence Bureau (IB) R.N. Ravi has more than once said that the accord “was designed to fail”. He has also said that “updating” the NRC was a misnomer. “How can you update a document that does not exist?” he asked.

The idea of issuing work permits had, in fact, been discussed by a committee in the ministry of home affairs in the early 1990s and had even found support from Dispur. But it could not be worked out.

Ravi said even long-term work permits could be thought of as those identified as foreigners might never be accepted back by Dhaka. The identification of foreigners would only mean disenfranchising them from political life in the state.

Pressure is also mounting on the Centre and the Assam government on the foreigners issue from scores of indigenous groups following the communal violence in the Bodo belt since July this year. The Bodoland Territorial Areas District has been witnessing violence with terrifying regularity, worrying the government but not enough to take major policy decisions.

Urging the government to lend an ear to organisations seeking peaceful solutions, one of the Absu recommendations says, “Those organisations which promote harmony and solutions based on the principles of non-violence should receive official support and recognition.” The government does have a record of not getting to the negotiating table unless threatened and having suffered violence.

Absu president Pramod Boro said, “Violence has occurred (in the BTAD) and if the government does not act we fear a repeat.” The Absu wants implementation of Chapter X of the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation Act, 1886 to protect tribal belts and blocks from illegal migration.

Besides Absu, the Indigenous National Organisations, Assam, a conglomeration of several ethnic groups, including Bodos, has also sought a solution to the issue of illegal migration. Its chairman, Bisweswar Basumatary, has urged the government to intervene and said illegal immigrants should not be rehabilitated within tribal belts and blocks, government land and forest land in Assam.


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