July 7, 1980, Forty Years Ago: Army in Assam
The Assam government has tightened security measures and asked the army to be on standby in view of the picketing beginning tomorrow of Central and state government offices, banks and other important institutions. Official sources said that police forces have been posted in strategic locations and mobile police has intensified round the clock patrolling. The Assam government has repeated its warning to government employees about abstaining from duty. For the third day today, the state remained cut off from the rest of the country, except the Gauhati, Imphal, Kolkata flight. The sponsors of the bandh have given a wide range of exemptions including post and services, transport, tea auction centres and Gauhati and Digboi refineries.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi seems agreeable to the Gandhi’s Peace Foundation’s dialogue formula to resolve the Assam problem. This was disclosed by the Bharatiya Janata Party leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee who said he had extensive discussions with the PM on the issue. According to the peace foundation’s proposals, the presence of foreigners between 1950 and 1961 should be regularised, those who have come between 1961 and 1971 should be detected and their names should be struck off electoral rolls and foreigners who came after 1971 should be deported.
Pak Shias protest
Thousands of Pakistani Shiite Muslims protesting an involuntary religious tax continued to block access to the main government buildings. Beating their chests and shouting slogans, the protesters said that they would not leave the site till their demands are met. The sect maintains that the tax, zakat, should be voluntary and what is collected from the Shias should be distributed to destitute people by a body formed for the purpose.