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Cong woos illegals through backdoor

Cong woos illegals through backdoor

Author: Pioneer News Service
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: July 16, 2005

Worried about the electoral fallout of the Supreme Court striking  down the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act 1983, Assam  Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said in Guwahati that he would discuss  with the Congress high command the possibility of evolving an  alternative law to protect the rights of genuine Indian citizens.
But the feedback from the state leadership gave clear indications  that it wanted to bring back the IMDT Act through the backdoor,  albeit in a different form. "Yes, we have to redraw our strategy,"  admitted Congress state president Bhubaneshwar Kalita, but refrained  from making any direct comment on the judgment.
The Assam Congress seems deeply concerned about the implications of  the verdict on its stable minority support base even as the Congress  leadership maintained a stoic silence on Tuesday's verdict. "We are  waiting for the full report of the judgement to react to it,"  Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natrajan said in New Delhi.
Mr Gogoi was at pains to allay the fears of a section of the minority  organisations fearing prosecution under the Foreigner's Act. "We  shall abide by the Supreme Court's verdict but ensure that the  genuine Indian citizens (are not harassed). There is no need to panic  with the scrapping of the IMDT Act," Mr Gogoi said.
He said he had instructed all the deputy commissioners and  superintendents of police of the districts to tighten security and  remain on vigil, particularly in minority-dominated areas. Mr Gogoi  said his government would update the National Register of Citizens,  which would give the correct estimation of genuine citizens.
Mr Gogoi took the plea that the Congress had never targetted the  minority community as vote bank. "The Congress has never regarded the  minority community as a vote bank. As proven in the last election the  Opposition got equal share of (minority) votes," he said. But he  failed to explain the brewing resentment among locals on illegal  settlers usurping agricultural land and acquiring political muscle.
The Gogoi Government had been accused of playing politics under the  guise of the IMDT Act, which came to represent the state's tactic to  delay deportation of Bangladeshis residing illegally in the state. He  overturned the plea by his predecessor Prafulla Mohanta of the Asom  Gana Parishad to repeal the controversial IMDT Act. The Centre  enforced the Act after it reached an agreement with the All Assam  Students Union (AASU), which led to a bloody movement against  infiltration from Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, Assam State Jamiat Ulama, another strong supporter of the  IMDT Act, has called an emergency meeting of the executive committee  tomorrow in Guwahati to discuss the fallout of the apex court's  verdict. The All Assam Minority Students' Union, which called for a  bandh tomorrow said, "we will not sit idle but continue our movement  in favour of the Act. AAMSU will choose whatever path of agitation it  finds fit to protect the rights of the minorities in their own  country," it said. Another minority outfit, the United Minority Front  (UMF), said the repeal of the Act was a "big loss" for the  minorities. In another statement, the state committee of the  Communist Party of India (Marxist) said the repeal of the Act had  created doubts and apprehension among the minorities. CPI (M) state  secretary Uddhab Barman in a reminded that the party had been  demanding deportation of illegal migrants, who had entered the state  after March 25, 1971.Supporters of the BJP and AGP, which had  championed repeal of the Act, celebrated at being vindicated.

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