1,36,149 people have been declared foreigners by the FTs till July 31, 2020: Patowary

Guwahati: A total of 1,36,149 people have been declared foreigners by the Tribunal till July 31, of which around 227 people have been deported from March 13 to July 31, 2020, as per the status report on the implementation of Assam Accord.

State Minister for Transport Industries and Commerce and Parliamentary Affairs Department Chandra Mohan Patowary presented the report while responding to the questions related to the implementation of the Assam Accord raised by Mariani MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi during the first day of the ongoing monsoon session of Assam Assembly.

He also stated that for the purpose of foreigner’s detection and registration, the Government of India has undertaken various steps for strengthening of the Government machinery.

The report also stated that a total 425 persons are lodged in 6 detention centres in Assam as on July 31, 2020 (Detention-wise figures are as follows: Goalpara-98, Kokrajhar- 47, Silchar- 43, Dibrugarh- 14, Jorhat- 833, Tezpur- 140).

Presently, 100 Foreigners Tribunals are functioning in the state and the Government of India has conveyed approval for the establishment of 400 additional Foreigners Tribunals in the state.

Notably, the functioning of the FTs are being monitored by Gauhati High Court.

Countering Infiltration Issue

In order to strengthen the security arrangements, to prevent effectively future infiltration, an adequate number of check posts shall be set up. Besides the arrangements, a road all along the International Border shall be constructed so as to facilitate patrolling by security forces, Patowary informed in the report.

He also highlighted the fact that one additional battalion of BSF was deployed in the riverine area in 2016 in compliance to the Supreme Court Order.

Four BSF battalions are deployed for guarding the above area through 47 Border outposts. Two battalions are deployed in the riverine area and mostly the border outposts of these battalions are located in Char lands, Patowary informed further.

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AASU makes Clause 6 report public, Delhi-Dispur caught on wrong foot

By- TALMIZUR RAHMAN

Guwahati: Clause 6 of the Assam Accord has been the bone of contention across the political spectrum in Assam since the day of signing of the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985. Finally, in 2019 the Centre decided to constitute a high-level committee to look into all aspects of the clause that would submit a report on it for due implementation.

In line with the Centre's decision, a high-level committee with retired High Court Judge Biplab Kr Sarma as the Chairman was formed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) after due consultation with the state government.

It is over five months now that the committee submitted the report to the Centre. Since some time, the AASU leaders who were also members of the committee have been repeatedly raising the issue of making the report public by the Centre.

With the Centre as well as the state government paying no heed to the AASU demand, on Tuesday the AASU leadership headed by its chief adviser Samujjwal Bhattacharya made the report public independently at a press meet in Guwahati.

Interestingly, senior Guwahati High court advocate Niloy Dutta who is also a member of the committee took part in the press meet through video conferencing.

As per the report, the government has been asked to accept 1951 as the cut off year in determining the definition of 'Assamese people'. All the indigenous people of Assam irrespective of caste, creed, community, language, religion, ethnicity and such other factors who were residents of Assam in 1951 should be included under the definition of 'Assamese people'. All Indian citizens who lived in Assam on that appointed date should also be considered as 'Assamese people'.

Significantly, under the Assam Accord, the 'Assamese people' should be given special constitutional safeguards under Clause 6. The report has also made a list of recommendations as constitutional safeguards for the 'Assamese people'.

Another recommendation made by the report may turn out to be a red eye-sore for the Centre and the state government. While the Centre along with the state government is doing everything possible to keep Assam out of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) ambit with a view to accommodating possibly millions of Hindu Bangladeshi immigrants within the territory of Assam, the report has strongly recommended the implementation of ILP in Assam.

For sure, it was the cardinal duty of the Centre and the Assam government to make the report public despite the fact that over five months have elapsed since the submission of the report. The general feeling that was gaining ground among the public was that the Centre might not allow the report to be available in the public domain as it was not upto its liking from the stand-point of CAA.

What has been done cannot be undone. Certainly, in the days to come, the media shall be agog with attacks and counter-attacks from rival ends. Quite possibly, a new chapter of 'no holds barred' political battle as well as legal battles may be on the cards. The Centre may not welcome legal battles as the same, more often than not, consume a lot more time for settlement. However, under the present dispensation, it is indeed difficult to make a guess. One never knows - a super fast track court may come to stay.

In any case, with the Assam Assembly election just about half-a-year away and with the Sonowal-led government having failed miserably on all fronts pertaining to 'roti, kapda aur maakan', the action by AASU may come in as a hard political blow to the ruling dispensation in Assam.

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‘Proposed Land Ordinance’ a threat to Indigenous People: Upamanyu

Guwahati: The proposed ordinance, by which all agricultural land in Assam is opened upto to industries without any restrictions except for a self-certification, is a death knell for not only agriculturalists but the 115 small indigenous ethnic communities in Assam, claimed Prabajan Virodhi Manch Convenor and Senior Advocate Upamanyu Hazarika on Wednesday.

Hazarika in a press statement stated that the proposed ordinance with barely 9 months remaining for the 2021 elections is a clear attempt by the ruling political class to gather funds from land speculators and enrich themselves.

“For a Government which came to power on the slogan of "Jati, Mati, Bheti" i.e. protection of indigenous rights and land, not only has it failed but taken proactive steps as in the present policy to destroy indigenous identity,” said Hazarika.

The Committee constituted under clause 6 of the Assam Accord for safeguarding indigenous identity, whose report submitted nearly 4 months ago has not only not been implemented, but not even made public. The priority ought to have been and for which the indigenous voted for the current Government, was to clear lands under encroachment by Bangladeshis, PGR/VGR land, 4 lakh hectrares out of the 17 lakh hectares of forest land admitted by the forest department under encroachment, protection of small indigenous communities in their areas of habitation by protecting their land rights etc, Hazarika claimed.

“This pernicious opening up all land for non-agricultural use is in clear violation of the Assam Agricultural Land (Regulation of Re-classification and Transfer for non-agricultural purpose) Act, 2015 which protects agricultural land for non-agricultural use through various prohibitions and restrictions. How has the situation changed in the last 5 years that a u-turn is necessary? In the last 5 years more land has gone under Bangladeshi encroachment under the active patronage of the present Government and it is the remaining agricultural in the hands of the indigenous people in Middle and Upper Assam, which this policy will ensure goes out of the hands of the indigenous,” added Hazarika.

Hazarika also mentioned that the Tiwa community has been one of the first victims of Bangladeshi infiltration, they being displaced from many places in Nagaon district and the recent establishment of an industrial belt in the Sonapur-Morigaon belt has further deprived them of their land threatening their identity. Such instances with other communities will only multiply if the proposed ordinance is brought about.

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