The recent statement of the BJP-led government in Parliament that there are around two crore Bangladeshi migrants staying illegally in India has triggered a fresh round of debate over the vexed issue in Assam, the state worst hit by infiltration from the neighbouring country.
Watch What Else Is making News
While Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday told the Parliament about the two crore Bangladeshi infiltrators, the Congress party in Assam has asked what the Modi government had done in the past two years and more to detect and expel them. “If the government knows that there are two crore Bangladeshi infiltrators in the country, then why doesn’t it detect and expel them?” asked veteran Congress leader and three-time Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi.
“What is the BJP government doing if there are really such a large number of Bangladeshi infiltrators in India? Why don’t they identify and expel them? What steps has the government taken to identify them? Didn’t Modi say during the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign that the Bangladeshis would have to pack up and quit the day he assumed office as prime minister?” Gogoi asked.
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) too has reacted strongly to Rijiju’s statement. “The Home Minister’s statement has not only vindicated the AASU stand, but has proved that the situation is going from bad to worse. The AASU has been shouting since 1979 that there are lakhs of Bangladeshi infiltrators in Assam. We want to know from the government what plans it has to identify and expel them,” said AASU president Dipanka Nath.
The AASU also said that the government’s responsibility does not end just by saying that there are two crore Bangladeshis. “The government must take action and show that it is concerned about influx,” Nath said.
The Prabrajan Birodhi Mancha, a newly-floated group headed by Supreme Court lawyer Upamanyu Hazarika on the other hand claimed that the number of Bangladeshi infiltrators in Assam would be around 80 lakh. “In July 2004, Shriprakash Jaiswal, then Union Minister of State for Home had told Parliament that as of 2001 there were 1.2 crore Bangladeshis in India, of which 50 lakhs were in Assam, which meant Assam had 40 per cent of the illegal Bangladeshis in India. Since the total population of Assam is around four crore now, the number of Bangladeshis will be no less than around 80 lakh,” PBM convenor Hazarika said.