Assam to seek refugee status for selected migrants

Assam government said it would formally approach the central government over the issue of granting refugee status to some people.

Guwahati: The Assam government said Tuesday it would formally approach the central government over the issue of granting refugee status to those people who entered the state from the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) due to religious persecution.

"Those who entered Assam illegally from East Pakistan due to religious persecution should be given refugee status," Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told media persons here.

He clarified that this, however, would not include those who entered the state without religious persecution or out of compulsion.

"We are going to send a formal proposal to the centre in this regard. We would work out the details like the timeframe and other concerning issues once the proposal is accepted in principle," Gogoi added.

The powerful All Assam Students` Union (AASU) had been demanding banishment of all illegal migrants, who came to Assam after the cut-off date of March 24, 1971 agreed in the historical Assam Accord that ended the six-year-long Assam movement in 1985.

Meanwhile, Gogoi also launched a scathing attack on Bharatiya Janata Party`s Assam unit chief Sarbananda Sonowal and said that the state had developed a lot in the past few years under the UPA government in the Centre.

Gogoi also drew a comparison between Assam and Gujarat and termed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as representative of capitalist and rich people of the state.

He noted out that while Assam had a debt burden of only Rs.11,700 crore in 2001-02, Gujarat had a debt burden of Rs.45,301 crore during the period.

"This debt burden has become Rs.18,792 crore in Assam during 2012-13 while the debt burden has rose up to Rs.138,978 crore in Gujarat during the fiscal," Gogoi said, claiming that while the rich have become more rich in Gujarat, the status of the poor people remained the same there.

"While Gujarat pays daily wages of Rs.147 under MGNREGA, in Assam we pay Rs. 152 per day wage under the scheme, which helps poor people of the state," he said.

Gogoi also extended his support to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi as the party`s prime ministerial candidate and said that the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in the country would be fought mainly between the Congress and the BJP.