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AGP protests cabinet decision

Guwahati, July 18: The AGP will seek Assam governor J.B. Patnaik’s intervention against the state cabinet’s recent decision to move the Centre to frame a policy for granting asylum to persons who had fled religious persecution and discrimination and taken refuge in India.

Addressing the media for the first time after taking charge as party president, Atul Bora said besides seeking the governor’s intervention they would stage protests near Dighalipukhuri on Monday and in front of the Assam secretariat on August 4. He said the cabinet decision went against the provisions of the Assam Accord.

The decision has sparked widespread protest in the state. Organisations like the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) have blamed the ruling Congress for “sacrificing the cause of the state”. The move is being seen as an effort by the Congress to woo the Bengali-speaking Hindu voters of Barak Valley after the party’s poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections.

In the run-up to the elections, the BJP had also sought shelter for Bangladeshi Hindus entering Assam because of religious persecution in Bangladesh.

“The decision is against the Assam Accord. We cannot allow anybody who entered the state from Bangladesh after March 25, 1975 to stay in Assam. The state lost 855 people in the Assam Movement launched against illegal Bangladeshis. We will seek the governor’s intervention to make Dispur withdraw its decision,” Bora said.

He also spoke of his wish to strengthen the AGP, which was floated following the six-year-long Assam Movement that began in 1979, by infusing new blood and a complete overhaul.

He requested those who have left the party to rejoin it. “People of the state want to see our 30-year-old party strong,” he said.

The KMSS termed the cabinet decision “communal”. “India is a secular country. How can a foreigner be given asylum in the country in the name of so-called religious persecution? What machinery does the government have to find out whether a person has entered the country because of religious persecution or some other reason?” KMSS president Akhil Gogoi said.

The KMSS had demonstrated in front of the secretariat yesterday to demand the immediate withdrawal of the cabinet decision. Akhil appealed to all organisations working for indigenous people to build pressure on Dispur to cancel the decision. He alleged that the decision was chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s attempt to win the hearts of a few Hindu Bengali dissident Congress leaders to bring to an end to the party infighting.