HOW much the Union Home Ministry is serious about the expulsion of Bangladeshis from Assam as well as fencing of border became clear from the reply given by Mullapalli Ramchandran, Minister of State for Home, in response to the question of Badaruddin Ajmal, All India United Democratic Front supremo and MP of Dhubri. The question was put during the current session of the Lok Sabha on July 27. It was on, whether any proposal has been received by the ministry from any political party for sealing the border in order to prevent influx of Bangladeshis. Mullapalli Ramchandran said, no such proposal has come from any political party in this regard.
This answer has raised the bizarre question ; whose responsibility is it to fence the border ? Now, after years of agitation by the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the North-East Students Organisation (NESO) and by various political parties and the visits by the UHM officials several times for on the spot study of the border management, the reply exposes not only lack of seriousness on the part of the Centre but also its ignorance. If after spending crores of rupees on border fencing and roads and also review of the progress so far made in their implementation, this reply coming from the Union Home Ministry is both shocking and surprising. Perhaps the Ministry is also ignorant of the Assam Accord of 1985, one of its clauses clearly stipulates fencing and sealing of the State’s border with Bangladesh for which deadline has been extended many times .
AASU and Assam Gana Parishad and BJP leaders reacting to the statement of Mullapalli Ramchandran described it quite ‘irresponsible’. It is the responsibility of the UHM to ensure the complete sealing of the border with barbed wire fencing. Political parties fighting for the issue can only help the Centre and the State in its implementation. Kriti Bhushan Purkayastha, Cachar district BJP president, reminded more than a decade back, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Uma Bharati joined thousands of party leaders and workers in forming human chains along Karimganj and Dhubri borders to highlight the serious problem of influx and the need to seal the border with fencing.
In fact, long stretches of border still remain porous, providing enough elbow room to Bangladeshis to sneak into with serious ramification on the demographic structure. The very process of detection and deportation has turned into a farce. This is evident from the fact that from 2001 till date, 14,856 persons have been identified as Bangladeshis. Of them 11,869 made vanishing tricks, while 199 who were pushed back through Karimganj and Dhubri border re-entered since India has no repatriation treaty with Dhaka. The classic case of Mohammed Ataur Rahman of village Morajhar in Nagaon district of Assam is a pointer to it. Rahman was arrested by police on November 14, 2008 as directed by Gauhati High Court. He was a Bangladeshi on the run. He was deported back, but again came back and filed a writ petition vide 45/2009 in the High Court to claim that he was an Indian citizen. The Court taking a serious view of the case has directed both the Centre and the State of Assam to clarify their stand on Bangladeshi issue. It has also brought into focus how crores of rupees spent for setting up tribunals for foreigners in all the 26 districts of the State have been simply a futile exercise and waste of public money. Both the Centre and the State have projected themselves as protector of Bangladeshis for the sake of vote-banks.