GUWAHATI: Assam Assembly today witnessed verbal exchanges between former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary over illegal immigrants issue with the latter claiming that Mahanta was asking questions without "trying to understand".
Mahanta, on his part, asked the Parliamentary Affairs minister to refrain from making such statements on such a serious issue.
The exchanges took place when the senior leader of the ruling BJP's ally AGP raised the issue of granting Indian citizenship to immigrants during the Question Hour.
Mahanta wanted to know Assam government's stand on the Centre's reported move to grant citizenship to religious minorities of Bangladesh and whether the state will raise its voice against any such "burden".
"There has been no written document by the Centre on this issue. So there is no question of any burden. If any such proposal comes in future, then we will discuss. So the question of informing the Centre does not arise now," Patowary replied.
On this, the former chief minister said the last census published data of religious minorities staying in the country and hence the question remains valid.
"There are 1.72 crore Hindus in Bangladesh at present. Will India ask Bangladesh to give security to them? Will the state government tell the Centre to implement the Assam Accord, because only this will solve the problem," he added.
Patowary countered by saying that even if India decides to tell Bangladesh to give security to minority Hindus there, it will actually depend on the neighbouring country to ensure their protection.
"The (bill to amend) Citizenship Act has been brought in Parliament, but it is not passed yet. So there is no point talking about it. Also the notification is about those people who come to India under religious persecution can apply for long-term visa or not," he added.
Patowary, who was once a minister in Mahanta's cabinet, further said the notification is for pan-India and there is no question of burdening Assam with minority immigrants.