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Fumbling on Hindu B’deshis, Sonowal harps on anti-graft battle

TWO YEARS IN OFFICE

GUWAHATI, May 24: On Thursday as Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal completed two years in office, he reiterated his government’s stand of making Assam free from foreigners but fumbled on the issue of allowing Hindu Bangladeshis to get settled in the State and of granting them citizenship.

“I appeal to the people of Assam to have patience and not to get panicky on the Centre’s move to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The people of the State had voted us to power with great hopes and expectations. So we won’t do anything that goes against their interests. Whatever we’ll do, we’ll do it in a transparent way. Let the final NRC be published and my government will make its view clear on the Bill,” Sonowal responded tactfully when journalists asked him about his government’s contradiction between making Assam free from foreigners and its stoic silence on the Hindu Bangladeshi issue.

Addressing a press conference at Assam Administrative Staff College at Khanapara here on Thursday morning on the occasion of completion of second year in office at Dispur, Sonowal said the India-Bangladesh border in the State will be completely sealed by December. He addressed the press along with the leaders of his government’s alliance partners — AGP president Atul Bora and BPF chief Hangrama Mohilary.

“We promised to the people before the 2016 polls that the border will be sealed. I’m happy to announce that the international border between India and Bangladesh in Assam will be sealed completely by December this year. Every month I personally monitor and review the progress of fencing work along the border with the authorities concerned,” Sonowal said.

While the riverine areas along the border will be sealed with non-physical barriers, the portion on land will be secured with smart fencing, which will stop infiltration and other illegal cross border activities, the Chief Minister asserted.

Highlighting some of the major achievements of his government during the last two years, Sonowal said that unearthing the corruption had been his government’s biggest accomplishment and his government will continue to adopt a zero-tolerance policy against such activities in the future.

“Our policy of zero tolerance to corruption over the last two years has restored public faith in the government. The unearthing corruption in institutions like APSC and arrests of scam-tainted officials of the commission and other senior officials of the government, including serving IAS officers, validate our stand against corruption,” he said.

Sonowal said in the APSC scam, besides the chairman and two members, 19 ACS officers, seven APS officers, 11 allied services officers and four other employees have been arrested so far. He claimed his government has been successful in giving jobs to 45,000 youths in the State during the last two years of its term.

“Our fight against corruption has also led to a climate for investment in the State. Assam has received investment proposals worth Rs 79,000 crore during the last two years. Due to my government’s tough stand against corruption there has been improvement in work culture in government offices and substantial increase in revenue earned by different government departments,” Sonowal said.

According to Sonowal, steps have been taken to check rhino poaching and the number of poaching incidents has decreased over the last two years. The number of arrested poachers has also increased, he added.