Leader of Opposition in the Assam Assembly, Debabrata Saikia, on July 29 criticised the Asom Gana Parishad for having ‘misguided’ the people of the state by using the illegal migrants issue for achieving their political objectives for over 30 years.
In a press release, Saikia said that after the AGP formed the government in 1985 following signing of the Assam Accord, an ‘intensive revision’ of the electoral rolls of Assam was undertaken under the supervision of the Election Commission.
“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.
The press release added that 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.
Saikia highlighted that between 1990 and 1994, the electoral rolls of Assam saw an increase of 3,67,628 voters (from 1,18,92,068 to 1,22,59,696). The EC considers an annual growth rate of 2.8% as acceptable, which means that the number of voters in Assam in 1994 could have risen by another six lakh persons and still been considered as normal.
Saikia mentioned that according to the White Paper published by the home & political department of the Assam government in 2012, a total of 61,774 people, including 6590 ‘D’ voters, were declared as foreigners by various Foreigners Tribunals between 1985 and 2012.
Saikia alleged that 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.
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.
“The AGP leaders are turning a blind eye to the plight of these people and they will betray the people of Assam in the context of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill as well, because their deeds are already at odds with their speech,” he said.
The opposition leader further said that people who do not find their names in the final draft of the NRC need not worry as there will be ample chance for claims and objections.
He also urged the people of the state to maintain peace and harmony in the coming days.