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Gogoi slams Modi government, calls it ‘intolerant’


New Delhi: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Friday slammed what he called an intolerant central government and also came down heavily on union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for his remark that the era of according special category status to states is over.

“I have never seen such an intolerant government,” he said at a press conference here.

“They are dictating to us what to eat, what to wear, what to think. Even during the Emergency, I did not see so much resentment among the people,” he said, noting “writers, intellectuals, artists, scientists, everybody” were expressing their protest.

“The president had to caution twice reminding (them) about the diversity of our country,” he said

“But (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi does not rein in the fringe elements.”

With assembly elections set to be held in Assam in April-May next year, Gogoi said that he supported all anti-communal forces but he was not planning any alliance.

“However, I am not planning any alliance as we are confident of winning the elections,” he said, adding that how the government would be formed post-elections was a different thing.

Asked if he was planning any seat arrangement with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), Gogoi denied it, but added that the AIUDF was also fighting the communal forces.

He also charged the acting state Governor P.B. Acharya with behaving “like an RSS pracharak”.

“I have seen reports in the media that Acharya is criticizing the state government over the condition of roads and the issue of payment of salaries to teachers,” he said.

“I do not know if this is correct. But if this is correct, then Acharya is behaving more like an RSS pracharak than a governor,” he said.

“Acharya should remember that he is only the acting governor of the state. He has been appointed governor of Nagaland and has been given additional charge of Assam till a new governor is appointed (in Assam),” Gogoi said.

The Assam chief minister also said that Africans have not forgotten former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi for their contributions to India-Africa ties, unlike the Narendra Modi government.

“Africans have shown that they are not ungrateful people,” Gogoi said in reference to the Modi-government’s apparent snubbing Nehru and Gandhi in the third India-Africa Forum Summit held in the national capital this week.

“It was Jawaharlal Nehru who initiated the ties between India and the African countries. (Zimbabwe President Robert) Mugabe spoke about Nehru in front of Modi,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gogoi came down heavily on Jaitley’s remark that the era of special category status to states is over.

“The northeastern states that are backward will now be pushed to further backwardness,” he added.

There has been wide speculation that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has quietly withdrawn the concept of special category status.

Gogoi said that the withdrawal of the special category status would especially affect the poor people living in the border areas of such states.



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Assam’s Citizen Register Raises Concern of U.N. Human Rights Expert

Assam, a state of 33 million people known for its lush tea estates, has for decades been racked by violence between indigenous tribes and settlers.

A woman, whose name is left out in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft, stands in a a line to collect forms to file appeals at a NRC Sewa Kendra (NSK) in Guwahati, Aug. 11, 2018. VOA

Three United Nations human rights experts expressed “deep concern” Thursday over a controversial citizens register in India’s Assam state, warning it could inflame ethnic tensions in an already fractious region.

A new draft Register of Citizens (NRC) in the northeastern state announced in July left off four million people, leaving them potentially stateless and facing an uncertain future.

Critics say it is the latest move by the right-wing party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bolster India’s Hindu majority at the expense of minorities. India will hold a national election next year.

Bakrapara, Assam

The policy was introduced by the state government, which is controlled by the same BJP party in power nationally.

“We are… seriously concerned about the lack of clarity regarding what will happen to those left out of the finalized NRC,” said a joint statement from the UN special rapporteur on religious freedoms, Ahmed Shaheed, the rapporteur for minority rights, Fernand de Varennes and an expert on arbitrary detentions, Seong-Phil Hong.

“There is a risk that persons not part of the NRC could become stateless, be at risk of deportation, or be subject to large-scale migration detention,” they said.

The deadline to provide the necessary documents to be included on the register has been set for December 31.

Indian Muslim men shout slogans during a protest against tensions in India’s northeastern state of Assam, in New Delhi, India, Aug. 8, 2012.

The current register includes only those who were able to prove they were in the state before 1971, when millions fled Bangladesh’s war of independence into the state, and their descendants.

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Assam, a state of 33 million people known for its lush tea estates, has for decades been racked by violence between indigenous tribes and settlers.

“It is feared that this entire process is increasing inter-ethnic tensions in a region that has already experienced a tumultuous history of identity-based conflicts,” de Varennes said. (VOA)