GUWAHATI, March 3 � The State government today admitted that there is no proper definition of the �Assamese� people, even as Assembly Speaker Pranab Gogoi said the problem of illegal immigration is likely to persist till the India-Bangladesh border is sealed.
�Till the border is sealed like in Punjab, there is no use raising a hue and cry over the issue,� Gogoi said during the Question Hour.
He was commenting during a discussion on a question raised by Phani Bhusan Choudhury of the AGP on implementation of the Assam Accord, deportation of illegal immigrants and update of the National Register of Citizens.
Dr Bhumidhar Barman, Minister for Assam Accord Implementation, said in his written reply that 71,201 foreigners have been detected in Assam since 1985, of whom 38,186 came after 1971 and were found by the Foreigners� Tribunals to be liable for deportation. Of the total foreigners detected, 2,448 have been deported and 68 are kept in detention centres, while the remaining are either absconding or are dead.
He said the total length of the Assam-Bangladesh border is 267.3 km, out of which 44.59 km is riverine border.�
Choudhury sought information from Barman about the exact number of those who had died and why the rest were not kept in detention camps.
When Barman replied that those who came between 1966 and 1971 had to register themselves with the Foreigners� Regional Registration offices, the Speaker intervened and said, �You are giving a long winded reply. Please come to the point and give a precise answer.�
Barman said some persons who are declared as foreigners by Tribunals, �flee, some change their names, some cannot be found. It is not easy to find them. Efforts are on.�
Speaker Gogoi then quipped, �You keep trying� and said the problem would persist till the border was sealed.
Raising a supplementary question, Keshab Mahanta of the AGP asked about efforts to preserve the culture and heritage of the indigenous population as per the Assam Accord.
In his reply, Barman said even social and cultural organisations have so far not come out with suggestions regarding the exact definition and admitted that the government does not have the proper definition as well.
When BJP�s Manoranjan Das asked Barman for his personal opinion without the Chair�s permission, the Speaker again intervened and remarked, �Is this a marketplace?�
Gogoi further told Barman, �If you have a definition then give it. Otherwise, refrain from making twisted comments.�
Prafulla Kr Mahanta of the AGP said deportation of illegal immigrants cannot be undertaken properly in absence of a bilateral pact with Bangladesh and called upon the State government to approach the Centre to convince the latter to approach Dhaka for the purpose.
Barman agreed that the problem of Bangladesh not willing to take back the illegal immigrants did exist.