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Youths turning to ULFA (I) due to unemployment: Assam minister

Press Trust of India  |  Guwahati 

Youths join proscribed outfits like the ULFA (Independent) due to lack of employment opportunities, and not because they dislike the state government or oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, a senior Assam minister said on Sunday.

Addressing a press conference here, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma urged "those creating an environment" for youths of the state to join the ULFA (I) to desist from instigating them.

He accused a "certain section of the media" for launching a campaign that youths are joining the banned outfit because of the bill.

"Supposing we say the bill will be dropped, will the boys return (to the mainstream)? Supposing I give a guarantee that the bill will be dropped, will Paresh Baruah (ULFA (I) 'commander-in-chief') return to the mainstream? ULFA (I) and the bill have no link," Sarma said.

Instead of explaining to the youths that the bill has to go through various steps before becoming an Act, they are being instigated, he alleged.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act.

Among others, the amendment bill seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and entered India before December 31, 2014.

"People go to ULFA (I) not because they do not like the government. People go when there is no employment opportunities in the state. That is why we are creating job opportunities here," Sarma said.

If an attempt is made to spread false information and disturb peace and economy, then industries and tea gardens will close down, offering no employment and more youths will go to the militant outfit, the minister said.

"The root is employment. So, if we could bring them (youths) back to Assam and give them jobs here, they will not go to ULFA (I)" Sarma added.

The bill has been a bone of contention for a large section of people and organisations, which believe it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985 that fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants, irrespective of their religion.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, November 25 2018. 22:15 IST