In a candid talk with the media , Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has said that his government is committed to free Assam of all “illegal foreigners”.
“Our government came to power on two promises — corruption-free Assam and illegal foreigner-free Assam. We are committed to fulfilling the promises,” Sonowal told the media.
He was interacting with journalists on the occasion of the completion of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led state government’s two years in office.
The state has been witnessing protests against the Central government’s move to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 that seeks to grant citizenship to members of the minority community from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who came to India due to religious persecution in those countries.
While the Meghalaya cabinet has unanimously decided to oppose the new citizenship bill, the Assam government is yet to make its stand clear.
“Right now our prime concern is updation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is being done in Assam under the direct monitoring of the Supreme Court. The complete draft NRC will be published by June 30. We will make our stand clear on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 after the draft NRC is published,” said the Chief Minister.
Appealing to the people of Assam not to get carried away by propaganda, he said: “We are not going to hide anything. We will take all decisions only after seeking people’s views.”
Various organizations in Assam are opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 on grounds that it will legitimize lakhs of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.
Sonowal said the government’s fight against corruption was on since day one.
“The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption departments have registered 66 cases against government officials since we came to power. Seventy-four government officials including two IAS officers have been arrested for involvement in corrupt practices in the last two years.
“In the Assam Public Service Commission (APSC)’s cash-for-job-scam, 41 officials were arrested including 10 state civil service officers, seven Assam Police Service officers and 11 allied services officers,” he said.
The CID had also arrested 15 public servants in the last two years for corruption, he said.
Assam witnessed a six-year-long movement between 1979 and 1985, demanding the detection and deportation of illegal foreigners mainly from Bangladesh.
According to popular belief, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 will violate the clauses of Assam Accord and grant citizenship to illegal immigrants, particularly Hindu Bengalis, who came to Assam till 2014.