Guwahati: The sealing of the border with Bangladesh will be completed in two years’ time, Assam’s chief minister designate Sarbananda Sonowal said on Saturday.
Sonowal, who steered the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to victory in the recently concluded assembly election, has put the issue of infiltration and border security as his government’s top priority.
A product of the student movement of the 80s during the anti-foreigners agitation, Mr Sonowal, who steered the BJP to victory in the elections, has put the issue of infiltration and attempts to check them as his government’s priority. BJP had made infiltration one of the major issues in the poll campaign.
The BJP had also made infiltration one of the major issues in the poll campaign. “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,” Sonowal told PTI in an interview.
He was asked how he intended to seal the Indo-Bangladesh border, an issue he spoke about soon after his party romped home in the election on Thursday.
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 that the 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Asked what method or law he intended to apply to stop infiltration from Bangladesh as he was against the now repealed IMDT Act, Sonowal said, “When the final draft of the (ongoing) updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam is published, it will be clear who are the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.
On the election victory, Mr Sonowal gave the credit to his party and its alliance partners for “taking together all ethnic groups, giving them respect and representation”.
“Also acceptance by the people here of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development model of directly linking Centre’s development programmes with the states,” he said.
Asked if anti-incumbency and voter fatigue were factors for his alliance’s historic victory, the BJP state president said, “There was no anti-incumbency factor. It was the rampant corruption and lack of development during the last 15 years of Congress rule that was another cause for our victory”.
Asked if the BJP’s alliance with regional parties Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodo Peoples Front (BPF) was a plus point for the saffron party, Mr Sonowal said, “Of course people accepted that and gave us their mandate. We took along with us the tea tribes, the various ethnic groups across the state with us”.
“We did not leave anybody. We even went to those pockets in Barak Valley where there are ethnic groups of just 2000 people. We talked with them, gave them respect and representation. People want their culture and identity to be protected”, he said.