Gogoi clarifies stand on visa-free entry for Bangladeshis
Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Monday said he has not compromised with 'national security' by divulging the BJP-led union government's proposal to grant visa-free entry to Bangladeshi nationals under the age of 18 and over 65 years.
Gogoi said the Assam government strongly opposed the proposal on the ground that illegal migration from Bangladesh was a very sensitive issue for Assam and the other northeastern states.
He said the visa-free entry would have repercussions in terms of negative public reaction. The proposal for visa-free entry was made during a meeting at the external affairs ministry in New Delhi June 11, he said.
A spokesman of the Assam unit of the BJP, however, Sunday said there was no such proposal by the BJP-led government. The spokesman clarified that it was a proposal by the Bangladesh government which the centre had sent to the state for its feedback.
The state BJP accused Gogoi of compromising with 'national security' by divulging the details of the proposal. Gogoi said he cannot maintain a stoic silence on such a sensitive issue and that he would be failing in his duty if he does not let the people of the state know about it.
"The people of the state have the right to know about such a sensitive issue. I would be failing in my duty if I do not place the matter before them," he said.
The chief minister said he disclosed the issue not with a view to gain political mileage but to put matters straight before the people.
"(Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports) Sarbananda Sonowal may label my disclosure as a political gimmick. What I have disclosed is based on record. Why should such a sensitive issue concerning the people of Assam be put under a veil of secrecy? The BJP has taken a complete U-turn on the influx issue," he added.