Cong punches holes in WikiLeaks

The Congress on Saturday punched holes in the WikiLeaks cable, authored by a US consulate officer in Calcutta, which claims that the then party president Sonia Gandhi had offered to amend the Foreigners Act to prevent deportation of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants during Assembly poll campaign in Assam in May 2006.

By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Guwahati
  • Published 5.08.18
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Sonia Gandhi

Guwahati: The Congress on Saturday punched holes in the WikiLeaks cable, authored by a US consulate officer in Calcutta, which claims that the then party president Sonia Gandhi had offered to amend the Foreigners Act to prevent deportation of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants during Assembly poll campaign in Assam in May 2006.

Assam Congress Legislature Party leader Debabrata Saikia, refuting the cable, said, "This is twisting of facts taken to a new low. First of all, there was no election rally in Assam in May 2006. The Assembly polls were held on April 3 and 10 and the results declared on May 11. So there can be no question of Sonia Gandhi or any other leader addressing an election rally in Assam in May 2006."

WikiLeaks, an international non-profit organisation set up in 2006 in Iceland, publishes classified information and news leaks provided by its anonymous sources. A cable is a confidential diplomatic message exchanged between a diplomatic mission or consulate.

Saikia in fact dug up an old newspaper headline which said Sonia did address a rally at Nehrubali in Nagaon on April 6 of that year where she spoke on the influx issue, changes effected by the then UPA government in the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, but it was not to prevent deportation of foreigners.

"It was to prevent harassment of minorities as suspected foreigners. A prominent daily carried the news on April 7 under the headline 'Cong against influx of foreigners: Sonia'. The report, quoting Sonia, said, 'We don't support infiltration of foreigners. Government is formed by the will of the people and our government will care for the interest of the people.' Yet, this categorical statement is now being hushed up and a mangled version is now being publicised in order to defame the Congress," Saikia said.

Influx from Bangladesh has been a sensitive issue, leading to the six-year-long Assam Agitation.

Accusing the "dirty tricks department of the BJP" for having a hand in surfacing of the cable, Saikia said it was the BJP which was "welcoming" infiltrators.

"Besides pushing the citizenship bill, the ruling BJP had issued two orders on September 7, 2015 - the Foreigners (Amendment) Order, 2015, and the Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules to regularise the stay of minorities from other countries if they entered India till 2014 even if they have no valid papers. Who is for the infiltrators?" Saikia asked.

State BJP leaders said on Friday that the Supreme Court had in December 2006 struck down as "unconstitutional" the Foreigners (Tribunals for Assam) Order, 2006, which puts the onus of proving a person foreigner on the complainant, issued by the then UPA government.

"The order was issued to cushion the impact of the apex court's decision to strike down the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act as unconstitutional in June 2005. The Congress will do anything to remain in power," BJP general secretary and spokesperson Rupam Goswami had said.