Assam government today said it has opposed a proposal from the Centre to give visa-free entry to Bangladeshi nationals below 18 years and above 65 years of age. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said in a press conference here that the Narendra Modi government has sent a list of proposals to the state government this month seeking opinion on the same.
"Few days ago the Centre has sent us a proposal seeking our opinion regarding the lifting of visa for Bangladeshi nationals for those below 18 years and above 65 years of age. We have expressed our opposition to this," Gogoi said. It is already a very difficult task to trace all the foreign nationals coming in India with a valid visa and "no-visa will make the task even more difficult for government agencies," Gogoi stressed.
"The Centre has sought our opinion for multiple-entry in a single visa. We have opposed this proposal too," he said. The Assam government has, however, accepted two other proposals — starting a Dhaka-Guwahati bus service via Shillong and allowing transit for water transport, he said.
Assam had earlier opposed the Centre's proposal to give work permit to Bangladeshi nationals. "We want good relations with all our neighbours, including Bangladesh. But we have to look into the security aspect also as it is very important for us," he pointed out. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is scheduled for a three-day visit to Bangladesh from June 25 when she is likely to meet top leaders there and discuss vital issues including relaxation of visa norms.
Swaraj's Dhaka-visit is considered as part of the Modi government's outreach to neighbouring countries as was evident in the invites sent to top SAARC leaders to attend the swearing-in of the Prime Minister on May 26. Incidentally, Modi during his campaigns for this year's general elections, had said that if BJP comes to power, all illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India will be deported.