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In Assam, PM skips Bangla issue

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh skips the touchy migrant issue haunting Assam since the Gauhati HC observed on July 23 that Bangladeshis “have become kingmakers” in the State, reports Rahul Karmakar.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2008 00:13 IST
Rahul Karmakar

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday skipped the touchy migrant issue haunting Assam since the Gauhati High Court observed on July 23 that Bangladeshis “have become kingmakers” in the State.

However, Singh issued a veiled warning to those trying to create communal disharmony, kicking off his two-day “homecoming” tour of Assam from Jorhat.

“In our country, enduring solutions can only be found through discussion... Let us collectively protect our social and communal harmony and isolate those who threaten it,” he said.

The Assam Accord, he added, was an example of what could be achieved through the process of dialogue. “Our government is committed to ensure its implementation in letter and spirit,” he asserted.

The Assam Accord of 1985 had marked the end of a six-year anti-foreigner agitation in the state. Particularly targeted at Bangladeshi settlers, the accord had set March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date for deporting illegal migrants living in Assam.

Interestingly, the PM’s rally was scheduled to be held at Nagaon, headquarters of one of the many districts where the population of migrant Muslims has outstripped that of indigenous communities in the past 30 years.

“The PM couldn’t land due to bad weather,” a district official said.

Earlier in the day, Singh laid the foundation stone of Jorhat Medical College — Assam already has three. “Five of the southern states have over 60 per cent of medical colleges in the country,” he said.

The All Assam Students Union criticised the PM for evading the Bangladeshi issue and indirectly threatening action against indigenous peoples battling demographic invasion.

Meanwhile, the Meghalaya government carried out an eviction drive at Khanapara area, metres away from the Assam CM’s residence, on Monday.

The point was to draw attention to the Assam-Meghalaya border row. Ten persons, all from Assam, were injured. Six are critical and have been admitted to Gauhati Medical College Hospital.