SILCHAR: The volte-face made by the late Chief Minister of Assam, Hiteshwar Saikia, on the floor of the House after making statement about the presence of 30 lakh Bangladeshis in the State is well known when his Cabinet colleague Abdul Muhib Mazumdar, the architect of the infamous IM(DT) Act threatened to pull down the government in ten minutes. Saikia instantly denied the presence of any Bangladeshi in the State. The present Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi did the same turn around on the process of NRC(National Register of Citizens) update in the face of violent protest by All Assam Minority Students’ Association (AAMSU).The State Government has kept the crucial updating of the national register on hold despite objection from all the major political parties. The opposition by AAMSU is fraught with its own ramification as the updating is likely to detect lakhs of Bangladeshis by taking 1971 as cut off date.
This NRC update is a part of the long awaited implementation of pilot project to issue identity cards to the bonafide citizens of the country. It is no secret that from silent invasion, it is now aggressive encroachment of reserve forest lands, the latest to come into focus being the Orang National Park. It is all a deep rooted conspiracy to upset the demographic profile of Assam. Defying all prophets of doom from British expert lloyd in 1921, census superintendent C.S.Mullan of 1931, British Viceroy Lord. Wavell’s observation in 1946 on Saadula’s mischievous ‘glow more food campaign’ down to census superintendent RB Bhagaiwala’s alarming report, Assam is moving fast to be swamped by Bangladeshis.
The demographic topsy-turvy in Lebanon turning it from a Christian state into Islamic one is a part of history. Latest example of Cyprus and the unabated influx do provoke the question; are the indigenous people of Assam going to meet the fate of 7.2 million Christian Greeks who being swamped by the Muslim Turks in decades have become refugees in their own home land of the tiny island. The analogy is to foresee a similar situation in Assam which has undergone sea-change in its demographic structure, following continuous flow of illegal immigrants from East Pakistan now Bangladesh. In Assam the Muslim population has registered a phenomenal increase during the last 130 years. In 1871, the Muslim population was 11.7 per cent which jumped to 24.03 per cent in 1971 and by 2011 it is set to touch 31.41 per cent.
Viewed in this context, the indigenous people of Assam cannot but have genuine fears of being reduced to a minority in their home-land. The pilot project was initiated by the Union Home Ministry in 2005 after receiving alarming reports from the former governors of Assam, Lt. Gen S.K.Sinha and Lt. Gen Ajay Singh as well as that of West Bengal Gopal Krishna Gandhi. All of them described the situation as ‘a time bomb ready to explode’.
The stark reality is that nothing can now reverse the trend considered against the cavalier approach of New Delhi to foolproof border management. While the present regime of Assam led by Tarun Gogoi considers it wise to play safe for the sake of ‘vote-bank’ politics, the North Block for years has only been indulging in oratory. Result, long stretches of border still remain porous.
The latest disclosure from Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) based on the feedbacks of its intelligence wings further bring out the seriousness of emerging situation in Assam. According to its report, of the total population of the State, 60 lakh have been identified as Bangladeshis. It leaves no scope for debate or dispute since this is not the findings of a political organisation. The report has also hinted that a large chunk of Assam land in not distant future will slip into part of ‘greater Bangladesh’.
The report of the IDSA has in particular mentioned the districts of Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Nalbari, Nagaon, Karimganj and Darrang where infiltration has been taking place abnormally. Terming the infiltration as serious, the report has specifically mentioned Dhubri and Karimganj corridor as safe passage for the Bangladeshis to infiltrate and move to other districts of Assam.
It is to be recalled that in February 2008 at the initiative of the Union Home Ministry, intelligence agencies conducted a discreet survey to verify the extent of change in demographic profile of bordering areas of north-east with 2001 census as benchmark. The report was submitted by the intelligence agencies to the union home ministry just before the 2009 elections.
The last such survey by the union home ministry was conducted in 1992 which estimated the number of Bangladeshis in the country somewhere between 1.5 crore to 2 crore. The recent report has not been made public. This report along with the census report of 2011 will no doubt make startling revelations. But then for Congress in Assam and at the Centre, winning the Assembly elections of 2011 will be more important than bother about demography. North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) and All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), the vociferous organisations against infiltration, seem to be wearing out in this war of attrition. Indeed, it is a bleak future for the indigenous people of Assam.