Local opposition to the forthcoming elections in India's northeastern state of Assam spread to the capital on February 11.
GV Crowd seated at rally in New Delhi.
SV Former Foreign Minister Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee addressing rally. (3 SHOTS)
SV Volunteers collecting funds from crowd at rally. (2 SHOTS)
SCU Poster saying 'Armed Forces get out of Assam'
SV Former Prime Minister Charan Singh addressing rally.
GV Assamese nationals and students staging strike outside residence of chief Election Commissioner. (2 SHOTS)
GV/SV Government officials gathered outside Assam House. (4 SHOTS)
SV Government officials reading government circulars before boarding bus to Assam. (2 SHOTS)
SV Government officials loading luggage onto coaches. (2 SHOTS)
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Background: Local opposition to the forthcoming elections in India's northeastern state of Assam spread to the capital on February 11. The polls, due to be held on February 14, 15 and 20, are being boycotted by all non-communist opposition parties in India, including the Lok Dal Party of former Prime Minister Charan Singh and the Bharatiya Janata Party of former Foreign Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. On the eve of the elections, the two opposition leaders reiterated their support to the cause of student-backed Assamese nationalists at a huge political rally in New Delhi. Nationalist demand that the names of illegal immigrants living in Assam be removed from the electoral rolls have led to violent communal clashes during the electoral campaign. Assam's mainly Hindu population has also been asking for the eviction of all illegal immigrants. Assamese Hindus say the presence of so many Moslem immigrants is a threat to their political, linguistic and cultural identity. To press their claims, militant Assamese have also started an indefinite protest outside the New Delhi residence of the Chief Election Commissioner of India. They also oppose a decision, by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, to send central government officials to supervise the elections. Mrs Gandhi,who was campaigning for her Congress (I) Party in Assam when the protest started, on February 11, had taken the decision earlier, when Assamese state officials decided to boycott the elections. The immigrant population is also likely to boycott the polls for fear of reprisals from militant nationalists. Assamese militants say as many as 3.5 million illegal immigrants from Bangladesh have entered Assam since the 1950s. Government figures are closer to one million.