The Telegraph
Monday , July 28 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Assam move on asylum invites Paresh scorn

Guwahati, July 27: Ulfa (Independent) today announced that it was against the Assam government’s recent proposal to give asylum to foreigners who had fled religious persecution in neighbouring countries.

In an editorial of its mouthpiece, Swadhinata, the group today said the move to give asylum to foreigners was a ploy by the BJP-led government at the Centre and the Congress government in the state to protect their vote banks.

“We will protest the settlement of foreigners — be they are from Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan or Burma. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi and Sarbananada Sonowal (Union minister and Assam BJP president) will be equally responsible,” the editorial said.

The Assam government on July 16 had announced that it would move the Centre to frame a policy to grant asylum to persons who fled religious persecution and discrimination and took refuge in India on humanitarian grounds.

The Ulfa group led by Paresh Barua today observed its martyrs’ day amid tight security.

Police and paramilitary forces frisked vehicles and stepped up security at refineries, railway stations and tracks, market places, bridges and airports to pre-empt any move by the outfit to cause trouble.

The group led by Arabinda Rajkhowa, which is in talks, also observed the day in its designated camps.

The vice-chairman of the pro-talks group of Ulfa, Pradip Gogoi, hoisted the flag of the outfit in a designated camp at Sipajhar in Darrang district.

Ulfa (Independent) is unwilling to sit for talks without discussion on the subject of a “sovereign Assam.”

The group had renamed itself Ulfa (Independent) in May last year after the Rajkhowa group engaged in dialogue with the Centre and submitted its charter of demands.

The group agreed to talks after chairman Rajkhowa and at least six senior leaders were handed over to the Indian authorities by Bangladesh in 2010 and were subsequently jailed.

The Centre, the Assam government and the AASU in 2005 had agreed that the migrants from Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan) who had entered the state till March 24, 1971, will be included in the National Register of Citizens, which will soon be updated.

However, Dispur’s push to secure asylum for persons fleeing religious persecution from the neighbouring country after March 24, 1971, had triggered widespread protests by organisations, including the All Assam Students Union, Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti.

The Ulfa group’s warning of a protest against Dispur’s move, however, is seen by many as another attempt to regain public support, which has waned following the split in the outfit.

“We appeal to all organisations to join hands against such a move. Otherwise, indigenous people will become foreigners on their own soil. The government is giving one benefit after another to foreigners despite protests,” the mouthpiece said.

The outfit also opposed the ongoing eviction drive in Guwahati, saying it was opposed to the eviction of indigenous people.