Leader of the Opposition in the Assam Legislative Assembly Debabrata Saikia, has accused the ‘so-called regional party’ Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) of misguiding the people of Assam and using the illegal migrants issue for political gain for over three decades.
Saikia mentioned 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 of India.
The EC employed 25,000 enumerators who went from house to house and recorded every adult on 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.
About four lakh names were deleted at the preliminary stage itself out of about 35 lakh names in List-II.
The state election authorities carried out a second ‘special revision’ of the electoral rolls in 1990 under EC guidelines.
The then Chief Minister from the AGP, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, was on record as having told a local English daily on October 5, 1990, that the corrected electoral rolls were ‘OK’ and that he was ‘satisfied’.
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.
This was when the concept of ‘D’ (Dubious or Doubtful) voters was introduced.
This concept of ‘doubtful voter’ (actually, doubtful citizen) exists in no other state or Union territory in India.
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.
It is interesting to note 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).
Interestingly, the EC considers an annual growth rate of 2.8 per cent 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 and 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.
The interesting aspect is more than half of these Declared Foreigners were those who came to Assam between 1966 and 1971.
According to the provisions of the Assam Accord, such people are eligible for registration as citizens of India after a stipulated waiting period.
Saikia said 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.