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AGP wants land for Bangladeshi Hindu immigrants

AGP wants land for Bangladeshi Hindu immigrants

Author:
Publication: Webindia123.com
Date: March 2, 2006
URL: http://news.webindia123.com/news/showdetails.asp?id=265768&cat=Asia

Assam's main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has made a dramatic turnaround ahead of assembly elections next month by taking a pro-Hindu stand on the issue of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.

The AGP's linguistic minority cell in a statement said all Bangladeshi Hindus who had infiltrated into the region be treated as 'refugees' and they be rehabilitated properly by being granted land deeds by the government.

"The condition of the Hindu Bangladeshi refugees settled in Assam is deplorable and the government should take steps to rehabilitate them properly and give them land pattas (deeds)," the statement said.

The AGP, formed in 1985, has all along been maintaining that any Bangladeshi infiltrator who had entered the state after March 25, 1971, be treated as a foreigner and be deported.

This is the first time the party has taken a radical stand by advocating refugee status for illegal Bangladeshi Hindu infiltrators.

The shift in stand assumes significance, as most of the present AGP leaders were signatories to the historic Assam Accord signed in 1985 that made no religious distinction between Bangladeshi migrants.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was the only party that has for long been advocating refugee status for Bangladeshi Hindus who had entered the state after the 1971 cut-off date.

The BJP argues that Bangladeshi Hindus fled their country to enter India following alleged persecution from Muslims and hence should be accorded refugee status.

The powerful All Assam Students' Union (AASU) is also opposed to discrimination between Bangladeshi Hindus and Muslims.

The AGP's radical stand had evoked sharp criticism.

"An infiltrator is an infiltrator and the AGP's decision to categorise Bangladeshi infiltrators on religious lines is nothing but a poll gimmick to whip up emotions," Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said.

"By taking such a stand it is now proved that the AGP and the BJP are two sides of the same coin."

Several senior AGP leaders have been taken aback by the statement and are trying to put up a brave face.

The Election Commission Wednesday announced April 3 and 10 as the dates for assembly elections in Assam, which is going to the polls along with four other states.

(IANS)


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