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Why did AASU reject the offer to detect 70 lakh illegal immigrants, asks Assam Finance Minister

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Assam State Minister of Finance, PWD, Health and Family Welfare Himanta Biswa Sarma addresses a press conference in Guwahati.
GUWAHATI: With protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) continuing in Assam, Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said Union Home Minister Amit Shah has given assurances of detecting 70 lakh illegal immigrants in Assam, however, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) rejected it.

He questioned if the rejection was rooted in a desire to form a political front consisting of AASU members.

Sarma, while talking to media persons in Guwahati, said, “We will firmly and confidently deal with the new political outfit in the 2021 assembly polls. BJP and its allies will win 100 seats.”

Assam has a 126-member assembly. AASU - the union spearheading the protest against CAA - recently announced that after February, the efforts to form a new political party will be intensified.

“Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had offered 1966 as the base year for the detection of foreigners. But, because the AASU leaders had not attained the requisite age to contest the polls, they rejected the offer. And then, in 1985, inked the Assam Accord which accepted 1971 as the date of detection and deportation of foreigners. A 1971 cut-off date is bad in comparison to 1966,” Sarma said.

AASU - a signatory of the Assam Accord in 1985 - reiterated that as per the Accord, foreigners who entered the state after the cut-off date of March 24, 1971, irrespective of their religious affiliation must be deported.

Sarma said, “In a meeting with AASU leaders, Amit Shah offered to detect 70 lakh illegal immigrants in Assam. However, AASU leaders rejected the same. Was the rejection because there was a move to form a political party? That was 1985, and next year will be 2021; the people of Assam are far more matured now,” Sarma asked.

Prior to bringing the CAA in Parliament, Shah had a discussion with political parties and organisations of Northeast India.

“While Shah said that there are 70 lakh illegal immigrants in Assam and the Centre is willing to indentify them, AASU said that there are around 65 illegal immigrants,” Sarma recently said, in the state assembly.

He said the Home Minister appealed to AASU to accept Hindu-Bangladeshis, as a humanitarian consideration through the CAA. However, AASU stated that the same will violate the Assam Accord.

Sarma has maintained that less than five lakh people will be eligible to apply under the CAA, and those who are saying that one crore people will come to Assam will have to tender apology to public after the application process is wrapped up.
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