A report by Pramod Kumar
A two-day national convention on ?Census 2001-Emerging Challenges? concluded in New Delhi on April 27 with a call to countrymen to identify the dangers posed to cultural unity and integrity of the country by the population imbalance. This is the result of large-scale infiltration from Bangladesh, conversion to Christianity and Islam and uncontrolled growth of Muslim population in border areas. Noted thinkers, scholars, experts and leaders belonging to various political parties, and different cultural and social organisations expressed concern over the ?grave danger to unity, integrity and internal and external security of the country.?
The participants asked the government and political parties to take immediate corrective steps and stop thinking in terms of vote-bank politics. They stressed the need to develop a mass movement against the demographic imbalance. The convention was organised by the Centre for Policy Studies. Over 200 delegates from different parts of the country participated in the convention.
A resolution was adopted exhorting the Indian society to awaken or be ready to face a 1947-like situation in the coming two to three decades. Warning against the presence of about five crore Bangladeshi infiltrators and the large-scale conversion of Hindus to Christianity, the resolution, presented by Dr Mahesh Chandra Sharma, appealed to Indian Muslims to join the mainstream. The scholars also stressed on the immediate need to repeal the IMDT Act.
Underlining the significance of the convention, Dr Jitendra Bajaj, Director, Centre for Policy Studies, raised the issue of the fast declining growth rate of Hindus in India. He said the changes in the religious demography were more noteworthy in the border regions, where the Muslim and Christian population was outnumbering the Hindus. He said Hindus had become a minority in a wide belt comprising Purnea region of Bihar, parts of Santhal Pargana region in Jharkhand, northern districts of West Bengal and most of lower Assam and Kachhar. He said Muslims constituted 46 per cent of the total population of this belt that passes through the exclusive Muslim territory of Bangladesh. The region further east of this belt, comprising the north-eastern states including Assam, now has 46 per cent Christians in its total population and people following the religions of Indian origin constitute a minority in these states.
Two-day convention on ?Census 2001-Emerging Challenges?.
He pointed out that the Census data of the last two decades, especially 1991-2001, indicated that the changes were not confined to the border regions alone; a large proportion of Christians and Muslims was rising almost everywhere. ?Such sharp changes in the religious profile of a nation have varied socio-economic and strategic implications. It is in our national interest to honestly and seriously discuss the data on changing the religious profile of India, its multi-dimensional implications and to explore ways of modulating and controlling this process, which has the potential of tearing apart this ancient nation,? he added.
Shri Joginder Singh, former CBI Director, expressed concern at the presence of about five crore Bangladeshi infiltrators in the country. ?We have to accept the historical facts. The wide gap between the growth rate of Hindu and Muslim population is making the situation worse. We will have to find out a solution for the same and spread education and family planning measures amongst the Muslim population on the pattern of Indonesia. Ours is a great nation and we don'tdiscriminate between different religions. But this does not mean that we remain indifferent towards demographic imbalances,? he said, adding that we should be proud of being Hindu as Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life.
Dr Murli, Manohar Joshi in his address made a dig on those who try to look at the social problems from the economic perspective. He said, ?Even if we look at this problem from the economic angle, the five crore infiltrators are a burden on the economy by Rs 9,000 crores per year, even if we assure a meagre expenditure of Rs 5.00 per day, per infiltrator? A demand for a separate Muslim State is again being raised by certain quarters and separatist tendencies are also on the rise in the north-eastern states. It is being said that Bangladeshi infiltrators come to India in search of employment. But now the politicians refrain from making any comment on this tendency, thanks to vote-bank politics.? Dr Joshi also drew the attention to the fast-rising problem of infiltrators on the borders of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
Shri Prakash Singh, former DGP, Uttar Pradesh said that sending the Bangladeshi infiltrators back to their country was not an impossible task but it needed a strong will power on the part of the administration and the government. Shri Bal Apte, senior BJP leader said that the infiltrators had not entered India just for economic reasons; they have some hidden motives also. He said providing protection to them on human grounds did not mean that they should be given the voting right too.
Dr Bajranglal Gupta, chairman of the convention, stressed on the need to formulate a common population policy for the country. He also stressed on the need to launch a mass movement against conversion and infiltration. Prominent among those who spoke in the occasion included Shri Indresh Kumar, Devendra Swaroop, Shri Chandan Mitra, Prof. M.D. Srinivas and Father Jimmy Dhabi. Though, Shri George Fernandes, Maulana Obedullah Khan Azami, Shri Sukhbir Singh Badal, Shri Saeed Naqvi and Shri Manohar Joshi had granted their consent to attend the convention, they did not turn up citing various reasons.