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Assam protest over ‘immigrants’ remark in BJP vision document

By EMN Updated: Feb 04, 2015 11:59 pm

Our Correspondent
Guwahati, February 4

Large-scale protests were staged across Assam on Wednesday against the BJP calling the people from the North East as “immigrants” in its vision document for the Delhi elections. Political parties and organisations hit the streets to ventilate their ire even as they demanded an unconditional apology from the BJP leadership. The protestors also burnt the effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
In its vision document for the February 7 Delhi assembly elections released on Tuesday, the BJP said “north eastern immigrants to be protected”. The protesters asked if the people from the North East living in the national capital were foreigners.
Members and supporters of the ruling Congress, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), which staged protest demos across the state, said the use of the word “immigrants” was objectionable to the people in the North East.
The Congress demanded an unconditional apology from Modi and urged the people to boycott the BJP until he tendered it.
The AGP condemned the mess and said such an act was uncalled for.
“In the lead-up-to the last Lok Sabha elections, the BJP shed crocodiles’ tears to influence the voters in the North East but after it won the polls, it forgot them,” AGP president Atul Bora said. He also said that the Congress and the BJP could do nothing to the people of the region.
Others taking pot-shots at the saffron party were the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), the All Assam Students’ Union, National Students’ Union of India etc.
The NESO said the BJP insulted the north-easterners by describing them as immigrants.
“The BJP has committed an unpardonable crime and hurt the sentiments of the north-easterners.
Therefore, we demand that the party tender an unconditional apology to them at the earliest,” NESO advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya said.

After ‘immigrants’ gaffe, BJP rephrases chapter on Northeast people

Following criticism over the use of the word “immigrants” for people from northeast in its vision document for Delhi, BJP on Wednesday came out with a rephrased version and asserted the party stood firmly behind those from the region and would ensure their protection and security.
“The BJP firmly believes that our sisters and brothers of northeast are proud citizens of India and wherever they are the BJP always walks an extra mile to ensure their protection and security – be it Karnataka, be it Delhi or different parts of India,” Union Minister and BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
He said, “the inadvertent mistake is seriously regretted. We have reprinted this chapter.”
Reading out the rephrased chapter on “People from the North East to be protected”, he said, it now says – “Special cells in all police stations and special helpline numbers to be set up for the protection of the northeastern people living in Delhi. To safeguard the students of NE origin, special guardianship will be arranged with local families for them.”
BJP had yesterday faced criticism from various quarters after people from northeast were referred to as “Immigrants” in the heading for the chapter on them in the vision document, with Congress leader Ajay Maken demanding an apology after removal of the word.
Protests erupted across Assam with the ruling Congress and the Opposition Asom Gana Parishad saying the statement had hurt the sentiments of the people.
BJP spokesperson M J Akbar termed it a printing mistake, saying, “There was unfortunately a printing mistake in the document. We apologise for the mistake.”
“I want to reassure that all the brothers and sisters of the northeast living in Delhi are as valuable, as important for BJP as any other citizen,” he said.
Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who hails from Arunachal Pradesh, said “it is a clerical and printing mistake.”

Made mistake, but don’t play it up: Narendra Modi on ‘immigrants’ goof-up

A day after the BJP drew flak over a “typographical error” of referring to people from the northeast as “immigrants” in its Vision Document, Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended his party and decried attempts to rake up the issue for political mileage.
“Attempts are being made to provoke people from the northeast… a mistake was made and the party accepted it,” Modi said addressing an election rally in Ambedkar Nagar in south Delhi.
“No one should play with the unity of the country for political benefits,” he said.
Modi said he has visited the northeastern states many times and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government would develop the region “more than what has happened in the past 60 years”.
The prime minister’s comments came as the BJP termed the issue an “inadvertent mistake” and regretted it.
“Due to an inadvertent mistake the word immigrant was used in the Vision Document. The party regrets this,” BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said Wednesday.
“The word ‘immigrant’ was used in the heading, but the paragraph ahead used the word migrant,” he said at a press conference.
“Our brothers and sisters from the northeast are proud citizens of India wherever they are. The BJP walks an extra mile to ensure their safety and this mistake is regretted,” said Prasad, who is also the communication and information technology minister.
BJP spokesperson M.J. Akbar also expressed regret over the error.
“We regret deeply and I want to reassure all our brothers and sisters of the northeast that everyone from there in Delhi is as valuable, as important to the BJP as any other citizen of Delhi,” Akbar said.
On Tuesday, the BJP released its Vision Document for the Feb 7 assembly election where a section said: “North eastern immigrants to be protected.”
The Congress demanded that the BJP apologise to the people of the northeast.
BJP leader and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, addressing a press conference, clarified that it was a “typographical error”, but said the BJP was the only party to mention creation of a separate northeast cell in its Vision Document.
She hit out at the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, saying that while the two parties were criticising the BJP for the error, the parties had no provision for northeast people in their manifestos.
The reference to people from the northeast in the Vision Document found mention as there have been many attacks on people from the region in Delhi.
An edited version of the Vision Document was published on the BJP website Wednesday with the word “immigrants” removed as well as the reference to “migrants” in the subsequent elaboration.
The heading was changed to “People from the North East in Delhi to be protected”.
“Special cells in all police stations and special 24-hour helpline numbers to be set up for the protection of the north eastern people living in Delhi,” the edited version said.
“To safeguard the students of N.E. (northeast) origin, special guardianships will be arranged with local families for them,” it added.

Tripura CM flays BJP remark on ‘immigrants’

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar Wednesday attacked the BJP for describing people from the northeast living in Delhi as “immigrants” — a folly the BJP later rectified.
“The northeastern states are an integral part of India. Those people from northeastern states staying in Delhi are also citizens of India,” he told reporters.
Sarkar, a leader of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, said: “Why should people from northeastern states residing in Delhi be treated as immigrants? This is an absolutely wrong notion.”
A 24-page Vision Document released Tuesday by the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of Saturday’s Delhi elections pledged to protect “immigrants” from the northeast living in the capital.

By EMN Updated: Feb 04, 2015 11:59:22 pm