New Delhi: Heated exchange of words between ruling Congress and Opposition members were today witnessed in the Rajya Sabha when it took up a discussion on Assam violence.
Balbir Punj (BJP), who initiated the discussion, demanded that infiltrators from Bangladesh should be declared "stateless persons, disfranchised and debarred from owning properties in the state", a remark which drew sharp criticism from the treasury benches.
"They should be identified first, then declared stateless persons, who have no right to vote. Those who have already been enrolled as voters should be disfranchised. They should have no right to own property or right to admission in any school or college," he said.
Punj said he was "very disappointed with the statement of the home minister, who described it as a law and order problem".
"The home minister's statement was condemnable. It is wrong to put the natives and infiltrators on one pedestal," he said.
Giving taluka-wise population figures from 2001 census, the BJP leader said the number of Hindus are on constant decline while those of Muslims are rising because "Muslims from across the border are called as a vote bank....you created a situation in which population ratio changed and a sense of insecurity gripped the native Assamese as people were called from outside for vote bank politics."
Responding to his charge that Congress allowed infiltration of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which he said was the root of the problem, Bhubaneshwar Kalita (Congress) said he was "pained" to listen to what Punj spoke.
"What message do you want to send? To divide people or unite people? To divide people in distress in terms of religion should not be our approach...we should help the state administration, the people to promote peace. That should be the aim of every political party," he said.
Kalita also hit out at members of AGP saying they are "distorting" history and records.