Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dated July 27, 2010

Dear Sir and Madam,

I begin my today's email with a quote from Transparency India's report on corruption levels in various Indian sates. The exact words in the report were that the corruption levels in most services in Assam were "high or very high or alarming". This is the report for your reference - http://www.karmayog.org/redirect/strred.asp?docId=16337

It is indeed very sad. But, the question is how did we arrive here? I don't know whether you have ever been to rural Assam or not. So, let me tell you that ‎95% of the people of Assam are very innocent (seedha-saadha) and gullible. That's why the 5% of the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats are taking advantage of us. It's almost similar to the situation when a handful of British exploited India for hundreds of years. I say "almost similar" and not "exactly similar" because in Assam things can drastically improve if the Central Government starts taking  active participation and interest.

There are numerous scams which have not been unearthed yet. And, the ones that have been unearthed, have also not received requisite attention. A case in point is the NC Hills scam. On June 22, 2007, the State Cabinet had discussed the issue of rampant embezzlement of development funds meant for NC Hills district. After a detailed discussion, the Cabinet meeting had taken the decision to release all funds to the district, both of the Centre and the State Government, including funds under Plan and Non-Plan heads, through the HAD Department only. The Cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had taken the decision in order to effect fiscal discipline and to keep a watch on the funds being pumped to the hill district. It was imperative for all the departments to respect the Cabinet decision. The State Health department, however, did not bother to follow the Cabinet decision, nor did the other departments as mentioned. The Health Department continued to pump crores of rupees to the hill district directly, bypassing the HAD Department. The Social Welfare and Food and Civil Supplies departments also released funds directly to NC Hills district. Within a month of the Cabinet decision, the Health Department had directly released Rs 63.43 lakh to the NCHAC on July 17, 2007, and then Rs 24.25 lakh on August 4, 2007, Rs 118.75 lakh on September 27, 2007, Rs 30 lakh on October 11, 2007, Rs 1.81 lakh on January 11, 2008, and Rs 94.18 lakh in two instalments on March 24, 2008. The Social Welfare Department, to which the prime accused in the multi-crore NC Hills scam Mr. Khan belonged, had released Rs 1,92,91,770 on October 10, 2007, while the Food and Civil Supplies Department had released Rs 1.19 lakh on March 12, 2008 to the NCHAC directly. 

The Health and Family Welfare, Social Welfare and Food and Civil Supplies departments have not been able to give any appropriate reply as to why they had released funds directly to the NCHAC despite the Cabinet restriction on such practices. The mysterious silence being maintained by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on the issue only adds to the suspicion as to whether Dispur was involved in the multi-crore-rupee scam. 

Though the CBI has been investigating the NC Hills scam, a number of departments, including the Health Department, are outside the purview of the inquiry. The public opinion in Assam is that all departments of NCHAC should be brought under the purview of the CBI probe.

I would urge the Central Government to intervene immediately. I understand that you probably feel that exposing corruption in politicians belonging to your own party might hamper your performance in the next election. But, it is actually the other way round. When the common people of this country will see that  the Congress does not tolerate corrupt politicians even if they are their own, it will actually boost your image and will gain you more support.

Thanks a lot for your time and help.

I sincerely hope (against hope) to get a reply to my email. Even if you do not reply to my emails, I am perfectly fine as long as the Central Government starts taking active interest in Assam.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dated July 25, 2010

Dear Sir/Madam (whoever replied to my email),

Thank you for acknowledging the receipt of my email. By the way, I am not a "Mr.", I am a "Mrs." :):)

Anyway, as mentioned in my earlier emails, I will, of course, keep writing every day till I get a personal response from Mr. Rahul Gandhi and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, and an assurance that the central government will do an audit of the state government in Assam.

Once again, thank you for acknowledging the receipt of my email.

Regards,
Aryama Dutta Saikia

Reply from Rahul Gandhi's office (dated July 25, 2010)

Dear Mr. Saikia

Thank you for your email addressed to Mr. Gandhi with a brief on Illegal Bangladesh Immigrants Issue in Assam. It was quite informative and we look forward for you continued support and guidance.

Sincerely,
Office of Shri Rahul Gandhi, MP
_________________________
Office of Shri Rahul Gandhi, MP
12 Tughlak Lane
New Delhi 110011, India
F: +91-11-23012410
T: +91-11-23794488
_________________________

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dated July 24, 2010

Dear Sir and Madam,

Good evening!

Hope you are doing well. In my today's email to you, I want to discuss the issue of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam.Illegal migration from Bangladesh into Assam has been a major political, economic, social and security issue for Assamese society. The Assam Agitation of 1980s resulted in the Assam Accord of 1985 which stated that anybody settled in Assam from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971 is not a citizen, but an illegal migrant. But this HAS NOT been implemented till date. 

The majority of the infiltration into Assam takes place through the Dhubri district in lower Assam bordering West Bengal, the districts of Cachar and Karimganj in Assam bordering Bangladesh. Assam shares a highly porous 262 kilometre border with Bangladesh with portions of it left completely unchecked due to the supposedly difficult nature of the terrain.Though there is no documented data on the number of illegal migration, it can be safely assumed that out of the 26 million people residing in Assam, around six million are illegal Bangladeshi migrants!!

Local politicians in Assam have not done anything to tackle this problem. Instead political parties have always viewed illegal Bangladeshi immigrants as "vote banks." In fact, the first voter list discrepancy in Assam was noticed way back in 1979 when 45,000 illegal migrant names were found in the Mangaldoi Assembly election voters’ list. However, no action was taken. From 1994 to 1997, 57 constituencies in Assam showed an increase of 20 per cent in the number of voters whereas the all India average was 7.4 per cent for the same period. This obviously unnatural increase in the number of voters in Assam is mainly due to the addition of names to the voters’ list through dubious means.


In order to tackle the issue of illegal migration into Assam, the Centre set up the Illegal Migration (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983 on December 12, 1983 under an act of Parliament. Applicable only to the state of Assam, the IMDT Act provided that anybody settled in Assam before March 25, 1971 was a legal citizen. Very interestingly, for the rest of India, the cut off date for acquiring Indian citizenship is July 19, 1948. The IMDT Act also laid the onus on the complainant rather than on the accused to prove the latter’s citizenship status. (The Foreigner’s Act, 1946, in contrast, lays the responsibility on the accused, and not on the complainant, to prove his/her citizenship status.) This was a blatantly partial clause as the person accused had to do nothing to prove his/her citizenship whereas the complainant had to prove that someone was illegal. The IMDT Act therefore failed to effectively identify and deport illegal migrants. It just displays that the administration was not interested in tackling this issue.

Subsequently, on July 12, 2005, a three judge Bench of the Supreme Court ruled that the IMDT Act “created the biggest hurdle and is the main impediment or barrier in identification and deportation of illegal migrants.” The Bench also noted strongly that despite the fact that enquiries were initiated in 310,759 cases under the IMDT Act, only 10,015 persons were declared illegal migrants and out of this declared number, only 1,481 were physically expelled as of April 30, 2000. In comparison, West Bengal, which also has a huge influx of illegal Bangladeshi migrants, has deported nearly half a million till date under the Foreigners Act, 1946. 


I end my today's email with an earnest request to look into this issue of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam. The indigenous population of Assam is running the risk of being over-run by illegal Bangladeshi population which the corrupt politicians have given ration cards and citizenship.

Thanks a lot for your time and help.

I sincerely hope (against hope) to get a reply to my email. Even if you do not reply to my emails, I am perfectly fine as long as the Central Government starts taking active interest in Assam.

Regards,
Aryama Dutta Saikia


RESOURCES:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dated July 23, 2010

Dear Sir and Madam,

Good Afternoon! I hope you are doing well.

You probably haven't read my earlier emails. But that's okay. I understand you are busy.

So, anyway, continuing my email string, today I wanted to talk to you about infrastructure related work in Assam. And, instead of talking generically, I will quote a specific instance. 

The Bogibeel bridge.The foundation stone of Bogibeel Bridge was laid in 1997 by the then PM H.D.Deve Gowda. On April 21, 2002, PM Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee inaugurated the construction and declared that the bridge would be completed within 2007. It was even declared as a "national project" in 2007 (http://www.nenanews.com/ANE%20July%2016-31,%2007/mj4.htm)

Now, it is July 2010 and the bridge is nowhere near completion. There has been a couple of governments since 1997, and still this bridge has not been completed in THIRTEEN years. It is really amazing that we Indians think ourselves capable enough to host the Commonwealth Games when we cannot complete one bridge in 13 years.

I would request you to investigate this. And, more importantly, please look into the funds that have been sanctioned and supposedly spent on this project till now.



I end my today's email with an earnest request to look into the state of affairs of Assam.

Thanks a lot for your time and help.

I sincerely hope (against hope) to get a reply to my email. Even if you do not reply to my emails, I am perfectly fine as long as the Central Government starts taking active interest in Assam.

Regards,
Aryama Dutta Saikia

Dated July 21, 2010

Dear Sir and Madam,

As expected, I did not get any reply from either of you. But I have decided to write to you every day till I get a response. I know that it might even take years for me to get a response. But I am ready for the long haul. Being a common citizen of this country, I have neither loads of money nor power; all I have are unlimited reserves of patience and a will to leave a corruption-free country to the next generation.

So, coming back to the purpose of my email. I would request you to do an audit of the Assam state government. Your government has taken several developmental steps such as the NREGA. But the Assam government has not been straight about disbursing the money to the targetted audience. 

Moreover, RTI activists in Assam face a lot of problem since the bureaucrats and babus ask the applicant to pay for the photocopies of the documents. Imagine a BPL person shelling out money for 1000 pages of information.

I end my today's email with an earnest request to look into the state of affairs of Assam.

Thanks a lot for your time and help.

I sincerely hope (against hope) to get a reply to my email. Please let me know if you need anything else from me.

Regards,
Aryama Dutta Saikia

Dated July 20, 2010

Dear Sir and Madam,

You may not reply to my email since I am not a business tycoon or a filmstar or any other powerful influential person. For you, I may be just "one vote" which might not mean much to a national political party such as the Congress. I am a common Indian citizen. I do not have any political affiliations So, even if you do not reply to my email, please atleast read it.

I have a very high regard for Congress. We cannot undermine the contribution of INC to India's freedom. I understand that there are good and bad people in each political party. And, that is the reason why I am writing to you today. I believe that you are some of the very few politicians who genuinely want a corruption-free India.

I am from Assam, and the state of affairs in the state hurts me and many others like me. We have seen a ray of hope in Akhil Gogoi who has been fighting corruption in the state even at great personal risk to himself. His weapon of choice is the RTI act. For his contribution to exposure of corruption in Assam through RTI, Akhil Gogoi has been felicitated with various prestigious awards such as the Shanmugam Manjunath Integrity Award and the first-ever national RTI award.

Akhil Gogoi's most recent battle against corruption is against Health Minister of Assam, Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma. There were two criminal cases against Dr. Sarma in 1991, but the case files of these two cases mysteriously disappeared from the police stations and hence, the cases against him were dropped for lack of evidence. Dr. Sarma, who at that time, was just starting out in his political career was able to continue his rise in politics. But now, because of the efforts of Akhil Gogoi and his organization KMSS, these case files have been recovered. In addition to this, there is the NC Hills scam which has not yet been investigated. However, neither the Assam government nor the opposition party of Assam has taken any steps. No politician wants to take a stand because all of them probably have skeletons in their closets.

This lethargy of the politicians and bureaucrats in Assam has forced us, the common Assamese people, to raise our voice against the rampant corruption that exists in the administrative machinery of Assam today. And, it is in this regard that I am writing to you. Since the current state government in Assam belongs to your party, there is definitely a lot that you can do. I would sincerely request you to investigate the various corruption scams of the current state government in Assam. Please ensure that corrupt politicians and ministers are punished. The complete apathy and negligence of the national media and the central government towards the situation in Assam has deeply saddened and distressed common citizens such as myself. 

Through the social networking site of Facebook, a lot of common people of Assam are organizing Silent Candlelight Vigils across the country to mourn the death of honesty among politicians and bureaucrats in Assam (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Supporting-Akhil-Gogoi/117022228329905#!/pages/Supporting-Akhil-Gogoi/117022228329905?ref=ts) But being regular common citizens, we may not be able to accomplish a LOT.

I am writing to you with a lot of hope. We have faith in you because you do not come across as just another politician. 

Thanks a lot for your time and help.

I sincerely hope (against hope) to get a reply to my email. Please let me know if you need anything else from me.