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House glare on Assam influx data

Only one illegal migrant was expelled from Assam in 2015, reflecting the inefficacy of the existing mechanism to detect and deport illegal migrants from the state.

By Pankaj Sarma
  • Published 28.02.17

Guwahati, Feb. 27: Only one illegal migrant was expelled from Assam in 2015, reflecting the inefficacy of the existing mechanism to detect and deport illegal migrants from the state.

In 2014, 24 migrants were deported, while 13 migrants were expelled from the state up to October last year.

According to the data on deportation of illegal migrants from the state tabled in the Assembly today, 29,712 migrants were deported between 1985 and October last year, with the 2015 figures being the lowest during this period.

Water resources minister Keshab Mahanta said this while replying on behalf of chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who also holds the Assam Accord implementation portfolio, to a question by BJP legislator Tapan Kumar Gogoi.

In the past three decades, the highest number of illegal migrants deported was 3,228 (in 1988).

The Centre had admitted in the Rajya Sabha in July last year, that illegal migration to the state was continuing despite several checks and measures taken along the international border.

There are no official figures on the number of illegal migrants in Assam. However, the Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju had said in the Rajya Sabha in November last year that there were an estimated two crore Bangladeshis illegally living in India, a significant rise from the 1.2 crore figure given out by the UPA government in 2004 in the Upper House. But this was withdrawn soon after following a hue and cry over the figures in Assam.

Sriprakash Jaiswal, Union minister of state for home in the UPA government, had said that of the 1.2 crore, Assam alone accounted for 50 lakh Bangladeshis staying illegally in the state.

Influx has been a major issue in the Northeast because the local populace feels threatened by the illegal migration from neighbouring countries, especially Bangladesh. The threat resulted in the six-year-old Assam agitation and this culminated in the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985 but which remains to be implemented in full.

Most are pinning their hopes on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) update. The final NRC will contain names of only Indian citizens after a thorough verification.

There have been allegations that the NRC update has slowed down but the state government denied this.

Parliamentary affairs minister Chandra Mohan Patowary today told the Assembly that the NRC update was being carried out very carefully to ensure that not a single Indian citizen is left out. He said of six phases, work on two phases has been completed so far.

Mahanta also told the Assembly that barbed wire fencing remains to be constructed on a 71.41-km stretch along the state's border with Bangladesh. Of this stretch, 6.5km is land border while the rest is river, sar, bridge and culvert.

He said 3.5km of the unfenced land border was in Karimganj district and talks were on between the BSF and the BGB regarding fencing on this stretch.

"On the remaining 3km unfenced stretch of the land border, land acquisition is going on, after which the construction of the bfence will begin," Mahanta said.

He said the Centre was examining the feasibility of using "high-tech physical and non-physical barrier" technology to seal the riverine and char areas along the Bangladesh border in the state to check infiltration.

Though the minister did not elaborate what could be the "high tech physical and non-physical barrier" technology, an official source said it included installation of laser walls and smart sensors along the international border to plug the porous riverine and unmanned terrain.