By Syed Zarir Hussain, IANS,
Guwahati : Sounds shocking, but it is true: a person holding a Pakistani passport who entered India's northeastern state of Assam through Bangladesh unsuccessfully contested the assembly elections in 1996.
This sensational revelation was made in a judgement by the Gauhati High Court last week where mention was made of Mohammed Kamaruddin contesting from the 90 Jamunamukh assembly constituency in 1996.
"The petitioner (Kamaruddin) after successfully entering into Assam from Pakistan through Bangladesh not only roamed around the Indian soil, but also contested the 1996 election from Jamunamukh," Justice B.K. Sharma said in his 95-page judgement.
"The petitioner was in possession of a passport issued by the Pakistan government, on the strength of which he travelled to Dhaka from where he sneaked into Assam and even contested the election. This can happen only in Assam," the judgement read.
The court judgement was in response to 61 writ petitions filed by individuals challenging 'quit India' notices served to them by state authorities.
The judgement vindicated allegations by various political parties and influential student groups which allege that large-scale influx of illegal migrants to Assam from neighbouring Bangladesh.
"Influx from Bangladesh is a regular phenomenon with the resultant contributory factor behind the outbreak of insurgency in the state," Justice Sharma said in the order.
"What is required is a strong political will, unmindful of political gains derived from the presence of illegal migrants," the judgement said.
Opposition political parties and legal experts have come down heavily after the high court judgement highlighted that infiltration was a serious issue facing the state.
"It is a shame on the government where a foreigner can contest elections in Assam," Bijoya Chakraborty, senior leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), told IANS Wednesday.
The influential All Assam Students' Union (AASU), which spearheaded a violent six-year-long anti-foreigners uprising from 1979, warned Wednesday of a mass movement to drum up public support against the influx of alleged Bangladeshi illegal migrants to Assam.
"Political parties, both the opposition and the ruling parties, have failed to raise the issue as they all depend on votes of the illegal migrants," AASU leader Samujjal Bhattacharya said.
The court judgement said illegal Bangladeshis in Assam had become the kingmakers, besides warning that if illegal infiltration was not checked, then the indigenous population would be reduced to a minority.
Justice Sharma also warned that Bangladeshis would soon intrude upon the corridors of power and suggested a strong political will to free Assam from illegal Bangladeshis.