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'Cong conspired to make Assam haven for foreigners'

August 10, 2012 01:41 IST

Speaking on the debate on the Assam crises, Arun Jaitley, leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, said that he agreed with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's observation terming the unprecedented violence in the border state as a 'blot' on the image of our nation.

"Such violence has no place in a civilized society. The fact that over four lakh people have been uprooted; over 100 persons have been killed and the social fabric of the society has been significantly damaged is a proof of the breakdown of the government machinery in the state of Assam," he said.

Jaitley said that he feels for those who have lost their lives or suffered injuries or loss of property. It is extremely important that the relief and rehabilitation measures are strengthened so that all those who have suffered on account of this unprecedented situation can be helped out, he said.

"We must find out why how this situation emerged," he noted.

According to him, the situation emerged because a change in demography affects the character of a region or a state. "We, in India, have always had a tradition of protecting demography of sensitive regions. The hill states, the tribal regions are an example where demography is protected because the land, economy and the culture which are an inherent part of the social and cultural personality of these regions are protected," he said.

"The inclusion of Bengali speaking Silhoutte and Cachar and immigration or importation of lakhs of Bengali settlers on the waste lands has been threatening the distinctive culture of Assam and has caused many disorders."
"This position was on account of the strong conviction of late Shri Gopi Nath Bordoloi that the distinctive cultural and linguistic character of Assam has to be maintained," he said.

"This led to illegal immigration from East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) so that the demographic character of Assam could be altered. This opportunistic policy in the pre-1971 era ignored the concerns of national security, changes in the demography patterns and the making of serious in-roads into the strategic land link between Assam and the rest of the country," he said.

"To capture the territory of India with its military might was not possible. Encroachment through immigration was thus the alternative strategy. There was a convergence of the vote bank interest of the Congress party and those in our neighbourhood. India was silently invaded by millions of immigrants," he noted.

Jaitley accused the Congress party's alternative strategy now was to make detection, identification and deportation impossible if not very difficult.

He stated, "In recent times, England has been invaded -- not by enemies nor by friends but by those who seek England as a haven. In their own countries there is poverty, disease and no home. In England there is social security -- a National Health Service and a guaranteed housing for the asking without payment and without working for it. Once here each seeks to bring his/her relatives. So they multiply exceedingly.

Act clearly provided that if a person is suspected of being a foreigner staying unauthorisedly in India, a notice would be issued to him and the onus would be on such persons to justify that he is not a foreigner but a legitimate Indian citizen.

In 1983, the IMDT Act was enacted only for Assam. It was an exception to the Foreigners Act. The rules of the game were changed. Instead of the onus of proof being on the alleged foreigner, it was now an onus on the state to prove that any citizen is foreigner before deporting him.

Assam was the worst affected province on account of illegal immigration. Its demographic character was changed. The Assamese were suffering and yet the Congress party conspired to make it a haven for foreigners, he said.

"The government's approach has been wholly disappointing. The government is treating this as a transient law and order problem. All government's comments have been in that direction. The chief minister has to display a vision. The Congress party has to change its policy. It does not have to import illegal immigrants to increase its vote bank. The cost of this is being paid by the people of Assam and India. This crisis is not a law and order problem. It is not just an Assamese problem," he added.

Onkar Singh in New Delhi