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Gogoi junks Bangla disclaimer on influx

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi with the all-party delegation of MPs from Bangladesh at Khanapara on Sunday. Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati/Jorhat, Dec. 3: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today rubbished the claim by a delegation of Bangladesh MPs that the government had never taken up the issue of illegal migration with the neighbouring country saying that he had himself broached the subject with their Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Before leaving for Bangkok this afternoon to attend the flag-off of the Asean-India car rally in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday, Gogoi said he had taken up the issue with the Bangladesh Prime Minister during his visit to Dhaka with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in September 2011. He also raised the issue with the Bangladesh MPs last evening.

The Bangladesh team had told reporters on Saturday that India had never raised the issue of cross-border illegal migration with Dhaka. The MPs said Dhaka has never encouraged migration. They also told Gogoi yesterday that they were not aware about the influx issue in Assam.

“I apprised them about the fact that the influx problem has all along been there and that there was a prolonged agitation which eventually culminated in the signing of the Assam Accord. However, influx is on the decline. I also conveyed to them that my government is committed towards detecting and deporting those who came after March 25, 1971 as per the Assam Accord,” Gogoi said.

The chief minister’s reaction comes on a day the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) protested in front of the office of Kohora range in Kaziranga National Park against the alleged encroachment of the park’s land by suspected illegal Bangladeshi migrants and submitted a memorandum to KNP director N.K. Vasu seeking eviction of all illegal settlers.

Gogoi also denied having said yesterday at a public rally in minority-dominated Juria in Nagaon district that there were no Bangladeshis in the state.

“I have never denied the presence of illegal immigrants in the state. Had that been the case, my government would not have brought out the white paper on foreigners issue. It is a testimony to our resolve to solve the influx issue,” he said today.

He said his government had taken a slew of initiatives to strengthen the machinery for detection and deportation of foreigners such as setting up of river police stations and outposts, increasing the number of foreigners tribunals, installing floodlights, constructing barbed wire fencing and border roads, setting up detention centres and starting the process of updating the NRC.

The All Assam Students’ Union today branded Gogoi a “liar” and alleged he was maintaining double standards on influx.

An AASU release asked how could the chief minister say there was not a single Bangladeshi in Assam. Yesterday, the student union had burnt effigies of the Prime Minister and the chief minister for their alleged failure to resolve the vexed issue.

The AGP, too, lambasted Gogoi for allegedly claiming there was not a single Bangladeshi national in the state. AGP general secretary Durga Das Boro told reporters here today that the chief minister’s reported statement at the public rally had proved that the Congress had once again betrayed the people of Assam. He equated Gogoi’s statement with that of former Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech on All India Radio (AIR) after the fall of Bomdila to the Chinese in 1962 when Nehru had announced, “my heart goes out to the people of Assam”.

“As Nehru gave away Assam to China in 1962, Tarun Gogoi yesterday gave away Assam to Bangladesh,” the AGP leader said.

Boro also protested the statement made by Bangladeshi MPs that there was no illegal infiltration from Bangladesh to Assam and other northeastern states.

He said the Indian government had not taken up the issue with Dhaka.

An AGP delegation, led by party president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, will raise the issue with the Prime Minister and Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in a few days, he added.

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