R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, May 23 - The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 will violate the provisions of the Assam Accord and the Government should stick to the Accord for the purpose of detection and deportation of foreigners. This was the view expressed by former Union Home Secretary GK Pillai.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Pillai, who is well versed with the situation in the North East as he had served as the Joint Secretary (North East) of the Ministry of Home Affairs before taking over as the Union Home Secretary, said that it is not correct to classify foreigners on the basis of their religion and it is not possible for a State like Assam to take additional burden of foreign nationals. He said that as per the Assam Accord, all foreigners, who came illegally to Assam after the midnight of March 24, 1971, should be detected and deported and the Government should stick to the Accord.
Pillai expressed the view that the Government should not expect bordering states to take the burden of illegal migrants. “India is a large country. If the Government of India is keen on settling foreigners, it should be done elsewhere in the country instead of giving the burden to only the states having international border. During the partition of the country, a large number of people from Pakistan came to India through the border in Punjab but they were not settled only in Punjab. Such people were settled in different parts of the country,” he pointed out.
The former Home Secretary pointed out that similarly, after the partition, a large number of people came to Assam from the then East Pakistan. The then Chief Minister of Assam, Gopinath Bardoloi had asked the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to treat the issue as a national problem and settle the refugees all over the country. But Assam had to take the burden of a large number of refugees and now additional burden should not be given to the State, Pillai added.
Pillai admitted that the slow progress of implementation of the Assam Accord is a matter of concern and expressed the view that the Government should expedite the process of implementation of all clauses of the Accord. He said that implementation of clause 6 of the Accord, by which the Government promised to provide constitutional safeguard to the indigenous people of the State, is vital for the protection of the identity of the indigenous people.
Welcoming the ongoing process to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Pillai said that after the final NRC is published, it would give a fair idea of the gravity of the problem of infiltration and identify the foreigners who came to Assam after the midnight of March 24, 1971.