HC seeks reply to PIL on migrants

Guwahati, Nov. 29: Gauhati High Court has sought a response from the Assam director-general of police and the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) commissioner regarding a PIL which alleges that illegal Bangladeshi migrants are making a living as cycle-rickshaw pullers in the city.

A division bench of Chief Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice N. Kotiswar Singh today issued notices directing the DGP and the GMC commissioner to reply to the PIL (number 74/2012) filed by AGP leader Jagadish Bhuyan.

"The petitioner has sought intervention of the court to prevent use of rickshaws by illegal migrants as a means of sustenance," Bhuyan's counsel Bijon Kumar Mahajan said. Advocate Arshad Choudhury assisted Mahajan in the case.

The PIL comes at a time when the illegal migrants issue has returned to centrestage in Assam following the BTAD riots.

In the petition, Bhuyan said he was aggrieved by the absolute indifference, negligence and apathy on part of the authorities in taking proper steps towards implementing provisions of the Gauhati Municipal Corporation (Licensing of Rickshaw and Rickshawpuller) Bye-Laws, 1976, paving the way for illegal migrants from Bangladesh to ply rickshaws in the city.

Bhuyan had made an RTI application before the GMC, seeking information about the mechanism in place for monitoring the rickshaws plying in the city.

The information he had sought was furnished vide a communication dated June 18, 2010, which revealed that altogether 16,000 rickshaws were registered with the GMC till 2011-12, while 5,100 rickshaws were plying without registration.

He was also informed that against 21,100 rickshaws plying in the city, there were only 544 licensed pullers.

According to Bhuyan, these figures show that a majority of the rickshawpullers do not have licences and he believes that many of them have refrained from applying for licences because they are not Indian citizens and are illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

He also submitted in the court that he had brought this matter to the notice of the GMC commissioner and the DGP through appeals dated August 30, 2012, highlighting the violation and seeking prompt measures for preventing use of the rickshaws by vested interests for providing means of livelihood to illegal migrants.

Bhuyan said despite his appeals, the authorities are yet to take any steps in this regard.

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