At a time when Assam has become a battlefield of sorts over claims and counter-claims on illegal migrants in the state, the discovery of apparently fraudulent entries in the voter list of anAssembly constituency has revealed the poorly concealed truth.
According to residents of Noapara, Sishubari and adjoining areas under Bijni subdivision in Chirang district, which falls under the North Abhayapuri Assembly constituency and Subhaijar BTC constituency, 49 voters among 308 were found sharing the same addresses as several Bodo, Rajbongshi and Assamese families in the2010 Assembly election voter lists.
According to the list (a copy of which is with The Telegraph), the addresses of several voters overlapped. For instance, house number 13 has names of Ramcharan Ray along with seven of his family members but the same address is quoted under two other names ' Abdul Kader, 25, son of Mehr Ali. Similarly, Mohan Goyary and two of his family members ' Sabol Goyary and Jitu Goyary ' are listed against house number 16, which also purportedly houses Kurman Ali, 28, and Rahima Katun, 30.
According to local residents, the names were not there in the 2005 voter list but came up in 2010. However, they said nobody turned up to exercise their franchise. "We were surprised to see names of religious minority people in the list because till the 2005 elections, our centre never had such names on the list," said Banerjee Basumatary of Noapara village.
Another villager said, "The question is how come the same house number has been listed under names of persons from two different communities? Who are these people whose names were found on the lists? Is it a tactic of the government encouraging illegal immigrants to enlist themselves in the voter list?" he asked.
"We have seen their (suspected Bangladeshi migrants) numbers multiplying every year. In the last three years over 100 new houses have come up in areas like Majrapara, Baghmara and Duturi. We see new faces emerging in the area every year," 75-year-old Lalit Ray of Noapara said.
The villagers said they had brought the anomaly to the notice of the department concerned and also political leaders but no one took any action or interest, as the illegal immigrants are considered a vote bank.
Noapara, which houses both Bodo and Rajbongsi families, was badly hit in the recent riots, with over 100 houses torched.
The residents are now living at the Mongolian bazaar relief camp.
"We were like one family; there were no differences amongst us; we ate off the same plate. I cannot imagine that they could attack us, burn our houses and make us homeless in our land," Ray, who is yet to get over what had happened, said.
The NDFB's Ranjan Daimary faction today blamed the state and central governments of not paying serious attention to the issue of illegal migrants, who, it alleged, were the root cause of the violence in lower Assam.
In a statement issued to the media today, the outfit's information and publicity secretary B. Naijab said the violence was between the indigenous people and illegal migrants from Bangladesh. He also accused AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal of supporting the migrants and triggering the BTAD riots with an aim to get the BTC dissolved.
"It is not a clash between Bodos and Muslims. It is a clash between the indigenous people and migrants from across the border. It is not the ending; just the beginning. The government is not paying serious attention to the problem because the Congress in Assam is using the migrants as their vote bank and sheltering them," he said.