GUWAHATI, March 20 � Infiltration of foreigners remains a major problem for Assam and though the Assam Accord was signed way back in 1985 to pave the way for solution of the problem, the main clauses of the Accord are yet to be implemented. The process of detection and deportation of foreigners remains a farce as nearly three lakh cases are pending before the Tribunals set up under the provisions of the Foreigners� Act, while less than 10 per cent of the persons declared as foreigners could be physically deported.
The Assam Tribune tried to get the views of the major political parties on the issue in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections and all the parties supported the implementation of the Assam Accord. However, the parties tried to shift the blame on others on the issue of slow progress of implementation of the Accord.
Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) spokesman Apurba Kumar Bhattacharya said that the Congress is committed to implementation of the Assam Accord as it was signed at the initiative of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government held a tripartite meeting on the implementation of the Accord under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. He said that the Government has started the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC), while the stagnancy on construction of border fencing to check further infiltration has been removed. However, he failed to give a satisfactory reply on the slow progress of implementation of all the clauses of the Accord and only said that some issues take time to deal with.
Working president of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Atul Bora said that his party�s stand on the issue is very clear and all the main clauses of the Accord must be implemented within a specific time frame. He said that the Government of India must sign an accord with Bangladesh for the deportation of the persons declared as Bangladeshi nationals by the Foreigners Tribunals. If the Government of India can sign an agreement with Bangladesh to hand over Assam�s land to that country, there is no reason why an accord cannot be signed for deportation of the Bangladeshi nationals staying illegally in Assam, he added. When asked as to why the AGP failed to implement the Accord during its two tenures in power in the State, Bora said that the Union Home Ministry was the nodal Ministry for the implementation of the Accord and both the UPA and NDA Governments at the Centre did not take initiative in this regard. Moreover, during the AGP�s rule, the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act also posed a major hurdle in the way of detection and deportation of foreigners.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also said that the problem must be solved and the Government of India would have to sign an agreement with Bangladesh to ensure deportation of the foreigners. The Government of India should study the steps taken by other countries facing such problem of illegal migration and evolve measures to deal with the situation, said the state BJP general secretary Santanu Bharali. He said that only fencing the Assam-Bangladesh border would not solve the problem and the entire border with Bangladesh must be sealed. He further pointed out that because of faulty land policy of the Assam Government, any foreigner can settle down in Government land after entering India, which also gave encouragement to foreigners to come to the state. When asked as to why the BJP-led NDA Government failed to take effective steps in this regard during its tenure in power, Bharali only said that the Assam Government failed to come out with concrete suggestions on the issue and the IM(DT) Act was a hurdle in the way of detection of foreigners. He also said that during that time the Centre provided funds to the State Government for construction of fencing and the money was not utilized properly.
General secretary of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), Aminul Islam said that his party was also in favour of implementation of the Assam Accord. However, at the same time, he said that foreigners should be detected through the legal system and no genuine Indian citizen should be harassed in the process of detection of foreigners. No one should be termed as a foreigner only by looking at his or her religion or dress, he added.