The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Work permits in Bodo belt

Kokrajhar/Guwahati, Aug. 21: The Bodoland Territorial Council will issue work permits to labourers from outside the four Bodoland districts to check the “influx of foreigners”.

BTC chief Hagrama Mohilary announced the council’s decision today even as the powerful All Assam Students Union (AASU), armed with the confessional statement of an illegal Bangladeshi migrant, said chief minister Tarun Gogoi should resign on “moral grounds”.

The BTC’s move is aimed at preventing suspected Bangladeshi nationals from settling in the area administered by the council. A BTC member said issuance of the permit had become imperative due to mushrooming of villages inhabited by suspected Bangladeshis who enter Bodoland as labourers.

“Labourers from outside the state will be issued work permits for six months. These permits, which will be like the inner-line permits, will ensure proper identification of genuine Indians,” Mohilary said.

The next sitting of the BTC, scheduled for August 25, will pass necessary bills for issuing the permits, the militant leader turned administrator said. The BTC and several Bodo organisations had last month issued quit notices to a group of suspected Bangladeshis who had set up home in Bodoland.

Launching a fresh attack on the government for allegedly “protecting” foreign nationals, AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya told newsmen here that Gogoi, who had dared the student organisation to prove that even a single Bangladeshi was present in Assam, should resign.

He said a Bangladeshi, Jahid Ali, had recently admitted before the court in Sivasagar that he was from the neighbouring country and had crossed the border by bribing BSF personnel. Jahid had been apprehended by AASU activists near the Sivasagar bus stand and handed over to police.

“When a Bangladeshi has admitted, that too in court, that he is an illegal migrant, what right does the chief minister have to continue (in office)'” Bhattacharyya asked.

The AASU adviser said the government had not put in sincere efforts to remove illegal migrants from the state. “If the government has not been protecting the interest of the Bangladeshis, why doesn’t it make a public announcement that those who have entered the state after the cut-off date (March 25, 1971) should leave'” Bhattacharyya asked.

AASU president Shankar Prashad Ray said the state government should make arrangements to keep the suspected Bangladeshis, who had recently migrated from the neighbouring states, in detention camps till their identity was verified.

“It is unfortunate that the state government has given them a clean chit. These incidents only prove that the Congress government is trying to protect the illegal migrants,” he said.

The student body also warned three Congress ministers — Himanta Biswa Sarma, Rockybul Hussain and Ripun Bora — against adding communal colour to the illegal migrants issue.

“The three ministers are conspiring to malign AASU’s image by adding a communal colour to the issue,” AASU general secretary Tapan Gogoi said. He was referring to the comments of the three ministers that the AASU always targeted the minority community.

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