GUWAHATI: Leader of Opposition in the Assam Assembly, Debabrata Saikia, today criticised the AGP, a coalition partner of the ruling BJP, for having "misguided" the people of the state by using the illegal migrants issue for achieving their political objectives for over 30 years.
After the Assam Gana Parishad (AGP) had formed the government in Assam in 1985 following the signing of the Assam Accord, an 'intensive revision' of the electoral rolls of Assam was undertaken under the supervision of the Election Commission, Saikia said in a press release.
The EC enumerators recorded every adult member in two separate lists, List-I for those whose names could be traced directly or by parentage to the 1971 electoral rolls and List-II for the rest, he said in the release on the eve of publication of the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The state election authorities carried out a second 'special revision' of the electoral rolls in 1990 under EC guidelines and the then AGP Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said in 1990 that he was "satisfied" with the corrected electoral rolls.
Despite Mahanta's "satisfaction" with the electoral rolls of 1990, in 1997 it was deemed necessary by the United Front government at the Centre and the AGP government in the state to undertake yet another 'intensive revision' of the electoral rolls of Assam, Saikia said.
This was when the concept of 'D' (dubious or doubtful) voters was introduced and this concept of 'doubtful voter' exists in no other state or Union territory in India, Saikia said.
Initially, about 3,70,000 'D' voter cases had been referred to the Foreigners Tribunals, but the number came down to 1,45,227 by 2014, he said.
Saikia pointed out that according to the White Paper published by the Home and Political Department of the Assam government in 2012, 61,774 people, including 6,590 'D' voters, were declared as foreigners by several Foreigners Tribunals between 1985 and 2012.
More than half of these persons who were declared as foreigners were those who came to Assam between 1966 and 1971 and according to provisions of the Assam Accord, such people are eligible for registration as Indian citizens after a stipulated waiting period.
"The AGP pretends to be oblivious to such facts and data and instead, prefers to misguide the people of Assam by highlighting the alleged threat posed by illegal migrants," Saikia said.
He said that the concept of 'D' voters which started during the AGP's tenure has now become a source of misery for not only bona-fide citizens belonging to the linguistic and religious minority communities but also to groups such as the Koch-Rajbongshis.
Saikia appealed to the people not to panic if their names did not appear in the final draft of the NRC and urged them to maintain peace and harmony in the coming days.