POST TIME: 10 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 10 March, 2018 02:44:32 AM
President faces protests in Assam
Hamid revisits 1971 memory lane in Meghalaya
Telegraph reports from Guwahati

President faces protests in Assam

President Md Abdul Hamid faced protests from members of the Hindu Yuva Chatra Parishad during his maiden visit to Assam on Thursday, the Telegraph reports from Guwahati. Shouting "Abdul Hamid go back", they staged a dharna in front of hotel Vivanta by Taj where he was staying. The protesters demanded that Bangladesh take back its nationals staying in Assam illegally. City police have arrested a few protesters.

"Bangladesh should take back its 70 lakh nationals who have been living in Assam illegally. It should also return Assam's land which is in its possession. Otherwise, his visit here is meaningless," one of the protesters said. Various organisations in Assam have been demanding detection and deportation of Bangladeshis who have been staying illegally in the state. Lack of a repatriation treaty between the two countries is a hurdle for deportation.

On July 15, 2004, then Union minister of state for home affairs, Sriprakash Jaiswal, had told the Rajya Sabha that as on December 31, 2001, there were 1,20,53,950 illegal Bangladeshis residing in 17 states. Jaiswal also claimed that Assam alone accounted for over 50 lakh of them. Only 33 illegal migrants from Bangladesh were deported from Assam between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017. Meanwhile, Liberation War time memories visibly moved President Hamid as he visited a small township called Balat in India's northeastern state of Meghalaya as it was the centre of his activities as a sub-sector commander of the Mujib Bahini, adds BSS.

Seventy four year-old President Hamid made his Balat visit part of his four-day India tour where he also found out local residents people who were in close interactions with him during the Liberation War 47 years ago at this town adjacent to Bangladesh borders.

Emotion gripped him as he exchanged greetings with the elderly residents in the neighbourhood who extended their hands in organizing the freedom fighters while two of them 75-year-old Marakh and 78-year-old Rajat - were highly moved during the interactions as they were in close interaction with him in 1971.

"I'll never forget them who were beside me during that tough time . . . I was so late to visit here but the memories of this place always engross me," President Hamid told the local residents as they assembled to greet him.

He added: It seems to me that as after a long time I could have performed my responsibilities properly."

President Hamid organized the Bangladeshi youths who took shelter at Gughat, Moilam and Balat of Meghalaya State constituting a "Youth Reception Camp" for their recruitment as freedom fighters as the sub-sector commander. He recalled that in this very scene the young Freedom Fighters were prepared for the war while the senior politicians and veterans used to fix strategies.

"Many of us left this world but I recall their sacrifice and dedication with due respect," the President said. President Hamid recalled that he reached Balat via Tekarhat, Gumaghat, Panchara and Moilam of Meghalaya to set up the youth camp whose members directly fought the War while in the middle of the war in April 1971, he returned to Bangladesh for a brief period to further organize people.

"After Bangladesh's victory on December 16, 1971, I motivated the Bengalee refugees to return home in multiple batches . . . I (myself) finally returned to Independent Bangladesh on January 10, 1972, the day when Bangabandhdu's Homecoming Day also came back home," he said.

Abdul Hamid also visited the house where he stayed in during the war time. His spouse Rashida Khanam was also with him for one and half months in that house. He also visited the tea stalls and local markets where they carried out pro-Freedom Struggle campaign in 1971.