New Delhi : Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday warned Congress President Rahul Gandhi and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee not to play with India’s sovereignty for “vote bank politics” by bending backward in support of the illegal migrants of Assam who may turn the state into another Kashmir.
In a lengthy article on the controversy over Assam’s draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) out on Monday, he quoted how Mamata herself worried in the Lok Sabha on 4.8.2005 about the Bangladeshis’ infiltration in her state.
She had then said: “The infiltration in Bengal has become a disaster now. You can see the Bangladeshi as well as the Indian names in the list. I have both the Bangladeshi and the Indian voters list. This is a very serious matter.”
Jaitley also blasted those defending some 40 lakh excluded from the NRC on the ground of human rights, pointing out that Article 21 of the Constitution protects right to life, liberty and against deprivation to all citizens and non-citizens, but Article 19 which guarantees the right to move freely throughout the territory of India and reside in any part of India is available only to the citizens.
He also quoted late Pakistan premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in his book “Myth of Independence” on how Pakistan resented losing Assam to India: “It would be wrong that Kashmir is the only issue that divides India and Pakistan, though undoubtedly the most significant. One at least is nearly as important as the Kashmir dispute, is that of Assam and some districts of India adjoining the East Pakistan. To these Pakistan has very good claims.”
Jaitley said there has been a significant influx of illegal migrants from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) ever since Independence and “because of ethnic and linguistic similarity and religious commonality, it was possible for these people together to avoid detection and find a shelter in Assam.”
He quoted then Home Minister Indrajit Gupta, who belonged to the CPI, telling Parliament on 6.5.1997 that over 10 million illegal migrants were residing in India, 5.4 million of which were in West Bengal and 4 million in Assam.
Jaitley said this figure in the last two decades has obviously increased, The large-scale illegal migration from Bangladesh has dangerous consequences for the people of Assam as well as for the nation and “no misconceived and mistaken notions of secularism should be allowed to come in the way of doing so,” lest the indigenous people of Assam are reduced to a minority in own home state. In 50 years between 1961 and 2011, he said the majority community grew 2.4 times in Assam while the minority increased 3.9 times, causing a major demographic impact.
He wanted the Congress to pause and study the accord Indira Gandhi signed in 1972 and set out a circular that the Bangladeshi nationals who came to India before 25th March 1971 were to be detected but those who entered India after that date will be repatriated.
Jaitley said then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi committed in the Assam accord he signed on August 15, 1984 three categories: Those cming before 1.1.1966 will continue on the electoral rolls and regularised but those coming after that date but before 24.3.1971 would have to register as foreigners and their names deleted from the electoral rolls while those coming after that date will be detected, deleted and expelled in accordance with law.
The BJP leader said historically this is the commitment of two Congress prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi that post 25 March 1971, migrants would be detected, identified and deported.
Jaitley said the illegal migrants are neither citizens nor refugees as they come for reasons of economic opportunities and their entry is a silent invasion of the country, citing how one of the world’s most liberal judges Lord Denning calls it an invasion.