Assam, May 21
Listing two priorities for the new government in Assam, Chief Minister-to-be Sarbananda Sonowal today said sealing of the borders with Bangladesh in two years and completion of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be done to put an end to infiltration.
“We have promised to the people of Assam that the two key priorities of our government would be complete sealing of the border and completion of NRC before the elections.
“Therefore, we are obliged to doing them and show to the people that we are sincere to our promises,” he told PTI in an interview.
A product of the student movement against ‘foreigners’ in the 80s, Sonowal, who steered the BJP to victory in the elections, and his party had made infiltration one of the major issues in the poll campaign.
He was asked how he intended to seal the Indo-Bangladesh border, an issue he had spoken about on Thursday soon after his party romped home in the election.
“Indo-Bangladesh border is not completely sealed, specially in riverine areas through which infiltration take place. We want that it must be completely sealed so that there is zero infiltration from across the border,” 53-year- old Sonowal said. He said the other priority would be the early completion of the NRC. “The updation process of NRC has been going on. It is getting delayed but we want to complete it as early as possible.” The total length of the Indo-Bangladesh border is 4,096 km of which 263 km falls in Assam. In the Assam stretch, 224 km has already been fenced while around 40 km is riverine.
As per SC orders in 2014, the final updated NRC was to be published on January 1, 2016 and verification of the records was to be completed by last September. However, the verification is still on as on date though it has achieved 97 per cent levels across the state.
The final NRC could pave the way for deportation of the illegal immigrants, who entered Assam after 1971 – a key poll promise of the BJP in the state. Sonowal said Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had given a two-year time frame for permanent sealing of the border. “We will work towards finishing within that time frame the border sealing work, including the riverine border,” he said.
Rajnath Singh had during his on-the-spot visit to the Indo-Bangla border in Karimganj district of southern Assam in January this year had said construction of the barbed wire fence along the Assam stretch would be completed by the end of this year.
“As soon as the border is sealed permanently, the infiltration trend will stop automatically. Plus we will create awareness among the people to prevent infiltration”, he had said.
Asked what method or law he intended to apply to stop infiltration from Bangladesh as he was against the now- repealed IMDT Act, Sonowal said, “When the final draft of the (ongoing) updated NRC in Assam is published, it will be clear who are the citizens and infiltrators will get identified. “The problem will get solved and action will then be taken against infiltrators as per existing law. “Like the Wagah border in Punjab with Pakistan, we will also have a similar ceremony in Assam along the Indo- Bangladesh border. We will make it into a tourist spot where people can come and watch the ceremony. This will also stop infiltration”, he added.
Assam, May 21