Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday while praising the BJP-led Assam government for strongly tackling illegal migration, alleged that the West Bengal government was not cooperating with the Centre in dealing with the problem.
The TMC which runs the Bengal government and with which the BJP has long been at daggers drawn, was quick to respond calling the home minister’s claim a white lie and pointing out that stopping illegal migration was the job of the BSF which the central government runs.
At a separate function where he laid foundations stones to a clutch of projects, the home minister also attacked the Congress for its rule in the northeast and the party’s leader Rahul Gandhi over promises of removing AFSPA.
Addressing a public rally to mark the first anniversary of the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led NDA government in Assam, Shah said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to ending the problem of infiltration but claimed Bengal is not cooperating with the centre.
On the other hand, Assam is standing rock-solid behind the centre and is fighting the problem strongly with a result evident in the remarkable decrease in illegal infiltration, Shah said.
TMC termed Amit Shah’s allegations as baseless and pointed out that it was the duty of the Borders Security Force to stop smuggling and illicit movement of people.
“It’s a white lie by the Union Home Minister. The West Bengal government has extended all support to the union government and central agencies in tackling infiltration. It is because of dereliction of duty by the BSF that cross border infiltration and smuggling is taking place”, TMC national spokesperson Sukhendu Sekhar Ray said.
He claimed that in the recent past, some BSF officials have been arrested for their involvement in smuggling .
The home minister said that he had visited the Indo-Bangladesh border at Mankachar in Assam on Monday and data reveals that during the last six years, infiltration has declined considerably and we hope to completely end it soon .
Allegations of illegal migration form an important part of the political narrative in this border state, where the issue led to a prolonged agitation in the 1980s leading to the Assam accord which promised to identify foreigners and de-franchise them.
Since then, the issue has been taken up by the NDA which has promised to bring a National Register for Citizens which would exclude illegal migrants.
Referring to the earlier rampant cattle smuggling to Bangladesh through Assam, Shah said that Sarma’s government has ensured that all doors in the state have been closed for cattle smugglers.
The Union Minister said that the state government’s operations against cattle smugglers will continue and so far 992 people have been arrested and around ten thousand cattle have been rescued during the last one year.
Shah also claimed that over 10,700 `bighas’ (a third of an acre) of land were freed from encroachers across the state.
The Minister had earlier in the day said improved law and order and peace accords with militant outfits during the last six years has led to the partial withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) in Assam and he was confident that it will be revoked soon from the entire state.
He said that accords were signed with all four factions of the NDFB and militant outfits in Karbi Anglong.
Shah, who is on a two-day visit to the northeastern state, also conferred the Assam Police with the President’s Colour at a ceremony in Guwahati.
The flag is engraved with Assam’s map and 36 stars representing the districts of the state, a one-horned rhino and the insignia of Assam Police with its motto.
Before returning to Delhi, Shah, speaking at a function to mark the foundation stone laying of five projects, accused previous governments of keeping the region divided.
He also took a swipe at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over his promise of AFSPA during Congress’ rule.
“I want to tell Rahul `baba’ you had said that if Congress came to power in 2019 polls, AFSPA would be repealed, but yours was an act of only appeasement. We worked on creating an atmosphere of peace where AFSPA could be removed”, he said.
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