Silchar, July 11: Union minister of state for home Swami Chinmayanand disclosed here that the Centre, in a revised estimate, had pegged the number of Bangladeshi infiltrators at over two crore.
Speaking at a crowded news conference last night, the minister claimed that the government would be able to identify most of these infiltrators if the controversial Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983 was repealed and replaced by other deterrent restrictions like the Foreigners’ Act, 1946.
The legislation is likely to be repealed in the forthcoming session of Parliament, he added. The bill is currently under consideration of a standing committee of Parliament, following proposals by the Congress and other Opposition parties, Swami Chinmayanand said.
He held the act responsible for the problem of infiltration in Assam. According to the 2001 census, the average national growth of population was 41 to 48 per cent but in Assam it was above 55 per cent, he said. He was hopeful that the new anti-infiltration Bill, expected to incorporate the amendments to the present IM(DT) Act, would be passed during the monsoon session of Parliament.
He stressed the inadequacy of the IM(DT) Act by pointing out that the West Bengal government, by using other laws, has been able to detect and then deport nearly four lakh infiltrators from Bangladesh during the past 10 years whereas the Assam government could deport only 1,051 persons of Bangladeshi origin during the past 19 years by using the provisions of the IM(DT) Act. Yet on screening, nearly 3.62 lakh persons of doubtful nationality have been detected.
Swami Chinmayanand said the Centre would seal off the remaining 3,000 km of the nearly 4,000-km-long Indo-Bangladesh border with an aim to curb regular infiltration by the Bangladeshis across the border into Assam, Tripura and West Bengal.
The minister said the Centre was most concerned about the “increasing underground activities” of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agents from Pakistan inside the country. New Delhi has already chalked out a number of steps to tackle this ISI threat from across the border, he disclosed.
The minister, who arrived here on a two-day maiden visit to Cachar district yesterday, said he intended to take stock of the law and order situation in this district following the four-month-long feud between the Dimasas and Hmars. He made it clear that he was not at all satisfied with the steps taken by the Assam government to tackle the ethnic strife.
The minister pulled up the state government for not “doing enough” to put an end to the ongoing ethnic clashes in the twin districts of Cachar and North Cachar Hills district, which have left nearly 50 people dead and rendered thousands homeless.
Swami Chinmayanand’s harsh words left many state government officials squirming during the press conference.
The minister said the Centre was ready to help the state government put in place within a short time a comprehensive security and rehabilitation package for effectively ending this ethnic turmoil, implying that Dispur was yet to come out with a plan.