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Centre's move stirs hornet's nest

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  9 Sep 2015 12:00 AM GMT

MHA notification to regularize entry & stay of 'minorities' fleeing Bangladesh and Pakistan

* Asks BJP: If we don't shelter 'persecuted' non-Muslims, who will?

* Will not accept foreigners after 25/3/1971, Hindu or Muslim: AASU

* Assam accord nullified, martyrs insulted by votebank politics: AGP

* KMSS threatens massive agitation against 'undemocratic' move

By Our staff Reporter

Guwahati, Sept 8: The NDA government’s move to regularize the entry and stay of minorities from Bangladesh and Pakistan in India by exempting them from rules and regulations under the Passport Act and Foreigners Act, has stirred a hornet’s nest in Assam even as Governor PB Acharya and the State BJP welcomed the move.

In a notification issued on Monday, the Union ministry of Home Affairs stated that as per the decision of the Central government, Bangladeshi and Pakistani tiols belonging to minority communities who have entered India on or before 31st December, 2014, will be exempted ‘on humanitarian grounds’ 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 expiry of those documents.

“There are reports that a number of Bangladeshi and Pakistani tiols belonging to minority communities in those countries, such as Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists, were compelled to seek shelter in India due to religious persecution or fear of religious persecution. They have entered India either without any valid document including passport/other travel document, or with valid documents but the validity of such documents has expired,” the notification stated. It further informed that the issue of regularization of entry and stay of such Bangladeshi and Pakistani tiols in India ‘has been under consideration of the Central Government’.

Welcoming the notification, Governor PB Acharya said on Tuesday that non-Muslim minorities who left Bangladesh due to religious persecution, must be given shelter in this country. He however put forth the suggestion that ‘those who entered illegally, may not be granted voting rights but giving them work permits can be considered’.

“As for the 2016 Assembly elections, it must be ensured that only genuine Indian citizens cast their votes,” the Governor further said.

Supporting the Central government’s move, the Assam BJP pleaded ‘humanitarian grounds’ for allowing non-Muslims fleeing Bangladesh to stay on in the country. “If India does not provide them shelter, which country will?,” asked the State BJP.

Newly inducted BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma upped the ante by calling upon the State government to immediately release from detention camps all non-Muslim refugees who came to Assam on or before 31st December, 2014, as well as withdraw pending cases and police notices against them. He further demanded that no more police notices be issue against such refugees since ‘they now have the right to live in India as per the Central government’s notification’.

“If the State government does not accede to our demands, I shall move the court. But I believe the State government will agree since it earlier took a cabinet decision on these lines,” Sarma pointed out at a press conference today.

Strongly protesting the Central government’s decision, AASU president-in-charge Pradip Das and general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi said that the Assam Accord of 1985 has been nullified with one stroke. “This notification is a grievous blow to the interests of the people of Assam. Foreigners are now being sought to be treated on the basis of religion. rendra Modi had promised on the campaign trail last year that all Bangladeshis coming after May, 2014 will have to leave India. But after coming to power, he has taken a U-turn,” the AASU leaders said.

The two AASU leaders further made it clear that the AASU will never accept any foreigner coming to Assam after 25th March, 1971, irrespective of whether the foreigner is Hindu or Muslim.

Flaying the rendra Modi government for starting ‘votebank politics that will bring danger to indigenous people in the State’, AGP president Atul Bora termed the move to identify foreigners on the basis of religion ‘political chicanery’. “By rendering the Assam Accord practically null and void with this decision, the Modi government has insulted the memory of 855 martyrs who laid down their lives during the agitation,” Bora fumed.

Threatening to launch a state-wide agitation against the notification, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader Akhil Gogoi said that the Modi government’s ‘undemocratic move if implemented will mean that Assam will have to take the additiol burden of more than a million people.”

However, the Assam government has made no official reaction the Centre’s notification till the time of filing of this report.

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