The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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VHP defies Gogoi on infiltration
- Giriraj Kishore vows to press ahead with pushback campaign

Feb. 2: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) today dared the Assam government to prevent it from launching a drive against infiltrators from Bangladesh.

The VHP’s senior vice-president, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, said in Silchar that his organisation would brook no interference in the proposed drive. “We are committed to the task of pushing back identified infiltrators into Bangladesh. We will go ahead with the campaign, come what may.”

The Tarun Gogoi government had warned the VHP and the Bajrang Dal against undertaking a survey to detect and subsequently deport migrants from Bangladesh. Former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta yesterday joined the bandwagon, saying a campaign of this kind by any organisation could potentially cause chaos.

Mahanta, one of the signatories to the Assam Accord of 1985, said the VHP’s decision was tantamount to usurping the powers of the Centre and the state government.

“The issue is a sensitive one and a survey by any political organisation is sure to cause confusion and vitiate the atmosphere. The state government or the Centre might requisition the services of an NGO for such a survey, but no organisation should take up the task without being authorised to do so.”

With the VHP and the Bajrang Dal sticking to their guns, the Assam government has decided to move the Centre to rein in the two organisations. The state government’s spokesman, Ripun Bora, said Dispur would take appropriate action against anyone involved in such a survey.

Dismissing the Bajrang Dal as a “paper tiger”, he said the organisation did not have a base worth the name in Assam and had no right to interfere in its affairs. “We will consult the Centre on the matter. If it does not respond, we will initiate action against those who conduct the proposed survey on our own.”

Bora accused the VHP and the Bajrang Dal of trying to create a communal divide in the state instead of helping the government resolve the complex issue. “The situation in Assam is totally different from that in Gujarat, where the Bajrang Dal has a large following. It needs to know that the issue of illegal migration to Assam has nothing to do with religion.”

Mahanta had made a similar statement yesterday, saying forces opposed to the deportation of illegal migrants would raise a hue and cry over harassment of bona fide citizens if “quit notices” were to be served. However, he backed the Centre’s proposal to issue work permits, saying it would help in detection of illegal migrants.

On Delhi’s resolve to push back migrants from Bangladesh, Mahanta said the Centre should take up the matter at the appropriate level and convince the neighbouring country to take back its citizens. “Any drive to flush out illegal migrants needs careful handling. One wrong move could spoil the plan,” the former chief minister said.

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