The Centre’s decision to permit minorities leaving Bangladesh and Pakistan due to religious persecution to enter and stay on in India continues to irk Assam, with state Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Thursday saying the state would not be allowed to be overburdened with people from across the border.
Reacting to a statement allegedly made by Union External Affairs Minister VK Singh here on Wednesday that Assam would have to bear the burden on minority immigrants from the two neighbouring countries, Gogoi said that the attitude and approach of the Central Government to impose things from the top is contrary to the spirit of cooperative federalism.
“Assam would not be allowed to be overburdened with people from across the border. Barring those who have been staying in the state for a long time due to religious and other persecution, the state (Assam) would not be allowed to be overburdened,” Gogoi said in a statement.
The ministry of home affairs had on September 7 issued a notification saying the Centre had decided to exempt “on humanitarian considerations” Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities who have entered India on or before December 31, 2014 from the relevant provisions of rules and order made under the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and the Foreigners Act, 1946, in respect of their entry and stay in India without such documents or after the expiry of those documents, as the case may be.
Gogoi, who feared that the Centre’s move will put the identity of Assamese people at stake, said that his government would not allow this to happen. “The state government will not allow the identity of the Assamese people to be put at stake,” chief minister said. He also accused the BJP-led government at the Centre of undermining the spirit of cooperative federalism by imposing things from the top.
“The people of Assam know how to fight it out and to preserve their identity. Our government is for safeguarding their identity,” he added. Gogoi also said that the state government has been all along pressing the Centre for strengthening the barbed-wire fencing, intensifying riverine patrolling, floodlighting, increasing number of BoPs, improving border roads and other measures to stop illegal influx from across the border.
Withdraw notification: AASU
Meanwhile, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) has asked the Centre to withdraw its September 7 notification and said Assam should not be used as a “dumping ground” of Bangladeshi nationals.
“There is a competition among some political parties to protect under different excuses foreign nationals who have illegally entered Assam. While some parties have been always trying to protect illegal migrants from Bangladesh, the BJP-led government is now trying to put an additional burden of the religious minorities of neighbouring countries,” said AASU chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharyya.
He said Assam had already taken the burden of Bangladeshi nationals who had come before March 25, 1971. “We have already taken enough burden. Assam cannot take any more burden. These people will further threaten the identity of our indigenous communities. The Centre should withdraw its September 7 notification,” Bhattacharyya said.