D-voter tussle in PM court - Assam ready with a memorandum for Singh

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By UMANAND JAISWAL
  • Published 20.04.12
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Guwahati, April 19: Dispur has decided to seek the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to resolve the contentious D-voter issue as well as consider the case of Hindus who came to Assam after Partition on humanitarian grounds.

These issues will be part of the memorandum Dispur will be submitting to Singh, who will be here on a daylong visit to attend the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Assam Assembly, despite the 12-hour Assam bandh called by the Paresh Barua group of Ulfa.

Around 1,000 guests have been invited for tomorrow’s platinum jubilee function, including two Union ministers, three governors and three Speakers and Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma, Assam Speaker Pranab Gogoi said.

The twin issues had been figuring prominently both within and outside the Assembly before and after the last Assembly elections which the ruling Congress won with a decisive mandate.

The party’s commitment to help resolve the twin issues helped it swing the tide in its favour to a large extent, particularly in the Barak Valley.

By including it in the memorandum, Dispur wants to be seen as pursuing the twin issues with sincerity given the mood among the minority communities over the D-voter issue, Congress and government sources said.

The government now wants the Centre to consider the case of the Bengali Hindus who suffered during Partition of India and then creation of Bangladesh.

The community has been demanding citizenship instead of refugee status.

“Dispur is now giving every possible push to get the issues resolved.

This is the first time that the issues will be formally communicated to the Prime Minister who happens to be Rajya Sabha member from Assam,” a CMO source said.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi had last month challenged the Election Commission of India, asserting it had no rights to cancel the voting rights of the Indian citizens in Assam in the name of “D” voters.

The number of D-voters today is 1.5 lakh.

Last month, Assam Accord implementation minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said that the government would constitute a committee to especially look into the issue of Bengali Hindu “D” (doubtful) voters living in the state and that the issue would be discussed in the monsoon session of the state Assembly.

The government will ensure that the police did not harass Bengali Hindus in the name of being D-voters, Sarma had said at a rally organised by the Assam state unit of Nikhil Bharat Bangali Udbastu Samannoy Samiti at the Sonaram School ground here. There are over six lakh Bengali Hindu refugees in the state.

The other issues which figure in the memorandum are empowerment of the Brahmaputra Board to check flood and erosion, improvement the agriculture sector, allowing Food Corporation of India to procure paddy till such time the state was ready with its infrastructure or else the state will see distress sale by next year.

There has also been a request to declare tea as a national drink, set up of a housing mission for state police personnel, expedite the process for setting up the Upper House and sanction special development schemes to check Maoism from striking roots in Upper Assam, among others.

Power minister Pradyut Bordoloi told The Telegraph that the administration was geared up for the Prime Minister’s visit.

“We are looking forward to the visit as the Prime Minister is a real friend of Assam. His goodwill towards Assam is unparalleled,” Bordoloi said.

On the Ulfa bandh, he said such bandhs were a regular affair during any high profile visit.

“But we are not taking any chances. Here I must add that the people of the state nowadays take such bandh calls with a pinch of salt,” Bordoloi said when asked about the heavy security arrangements.

In the run-up to the visit, an improvise explosive device (IED) was recovered from the railway track in between Bijini-Patiladoha railway station in Chirang district around 11am today.

Railway sources said a local resident sighted the device weighing 3kg.

The Northeast Frontier Railway, which had cancelled and reviewed several trains yesterday following intelligence reports, today decided to restore normal running of the 55817/55818 passenger train running between Chaparmukh-Silghat-Chaparmukh from tomorrow.