Illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators morphed into Congress party’s vote-bank in N-E
To ascribe ethnicity as the main cause of recent riots that engulfed several districts in lower Assam will be to shy away from the reality. The clashes between armed groups of Bodo tribals and illegal Bangladeshi migrants claimed 70 plus lives on both sides and massive destruction of public and private property. About 500 villages were torched and about four lakh persons–both Bodos and Bangladeshis – were forced to flee their homes in terror. These internally displaced persons now living in 273 refugee camps are scarred and traumatised. The magnitude of this human tragedy is overwhelming and the top priority of the Government should be to restore normalcy and ensure that Indian citizen who are living in refugee camps are expeditiously rehabilitated in their villages that are, as of now, in ruins. The havoc caused in Assam could have been contained if the State Government had taken a serious view of the growing tensions between the two communities and not ignored intelligence reports about the explosive situation. The lack-luster manner in which the Congress Governments at the Centre and the State dealt with the violence that started in Kokrajhar and quickly spread to several neighbouring districts, including Bodoland Territorial Autonomous areas attracted condemnation from several quarters, including mainline media in Assam. Union Government’s attempt to get the Parliament to pass a resolution calling for peace in the State was frustrated by BJP which rightly insisted that the resolution should take note of the “historical situation” (read massive illegal immigration from Bangladesh). The principal Opposition party demanded effective action against “colonisation of north-east” by illegal immigration from Bangladesh and erstwhile East Pakistan. This view was virtually endorsed by Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma who in the context of Assam riots said that illegal infiltration was an issue in the entire north-east. Without mentioning Bangladeshis (in an obvious bid to avoid Sonia Gandhi’s wrath), the Chief Minister said “certain groups” were trying to increase their presence causing a sense of insecurity among local communities.
BJP has castigated the Congress president who remote controls the Government for not showing any interest in the implementation of Assam accord which her late husband signed with Prafulla Mohanta of All Assam Students Union that had spearheaded a popular movement against influx of illegal immigrants in the State. The accord clearly stated that Bangladeshis who had entered the State before 1966 would be given citizenship, those who came between 1967 and 1971 would be allowed to settle in India but would not be given voting rights and those who entered after 1971 would be identified and deported. Even after three decades, all Bangladeshis are enjoying all rights and privileges of genuine citizens thanks to the compulsion of vote-bank politics of the Congress. The Government got a totally ineffective Illegal Migrants (Determination of Migrants by Tribunals) Act in 1983 that was later quashed by the Supreme Court. Even lower judiciary is critical of the inaction on the part of the Government to detect and deport illegal infiltrators who continue to live in Delhi and other parts of the country. Recently a Delhi Additional Session Judge Kamni Lau while sentencing a Bangladeshi to ten years rigorous imprisonment for a dacoity in north Delhi severely criticised the Union Government for its inaction against illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and observed that around three crore Bangladeshis illegally staying in India were enjoying entitlements at the cost of poor citizens of this country.
Congress party’s track record on dealing with invisible invasion of the country through infiltration doesn’t inspire confidence. In 1971, India complained to the UN about the “aggression” it faced from huge population shift from then East Pakistan to its north-eastern states. Forty years later, these illegal infiltrators have morphed into vote-bank of the ruling party that has persistently hedged the issue of their identification and deportation. It is a great betrayal of the people of Assam, nay the entire country. In 1998, General (retd.) SK Sinha, then Governor of Assam, in a confidential report to the President of India wrote that infiltration of illegal migrants from Bangladesh was continuing unabated perceptibly changing the State’s demographic pattern and reducing the people of Assam into a minority in their own State. His analysis was that this influx of foreigners was a major factor in the outbreak of insurgency in Assam and that illegal migration not only affects the people of Assam but also has more dangerous dimensions – severely undermining the national security. The Governor maintained that ISI was actively supporting militants in Assam and that .Muslim militant groups had mushroomed that can lead to the severing of the entire north-east with all its natural resources from the rest of the country. The situation is so grim that if these trends continue the country might have to face yet another Partition with the emergence of another Muslim-majority country in the east.
In the year 2000, AGP Government petitioned the apex court for quashing IMDT Act and in its Affidavit presented a disturbing situation by stating that Muslim population in the State went up by 77.42 per cent during 1971-1991 while increase in Hindu population in the same period was only 41.88 per cent. Congress party’s dubious game on this score came into the open when immediately after coming to power, Gogoi Government withdrew the affidavit filed by AGP Government in a bid to retain the notoriously ineffective IMDT Act. The court was not impressed by Congress Government’s arguments and terming the incessant inflow of infiltrators into Assam as “external aggression” and severely castigating both the Union and State Governments, the apex court quashed the IMDT Act and directed effective identification of illegal migrants through tribunals under the Foreigners’ Act of 1946. Congress Governments at the Centre and the State made a desperate effort to obfuscate the issue by issuing a notification to provide relief to their vote-bank. The apex court couldn’t be taken in and pulled up both the Governments for their trickery and reiterated its order for acting under Foreigners’ Act. Nothing tangible has been done so far. Hasn’t the Government committed contempt of court by its inaction?
Muslim leaders and intelligentsia are misleading the country by claiming that illegal infiltration is a “bogey”. They pretend that Bangladeshis who indulged in murder and arson in lower Assam are farmers whose families had migrated to Assam in early 20th century. The truth is that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi told the entire world that 1971 operation against then East Pakistan was to stop the influx of refugees into north-east and other Indian states. Sections of Muslim, including radicals and terrorists, who recently indulged in a killing spree and putting to flames Hindu houses and shops in Mumbai on the pretext of Assam riots have given a communal colour to Assam riots to divert the attention from the issue of illegal migration. Canards they spread, inflammatory SMSs and morphed photographs they circulated was aimed at inflaming communal passions. These are reflections of the communal mindset of large sections of community. Will the Government wake-up to the grave situation created by violent and communal Muslims or will it continue to sacrifice national interests at the altar of its vote-bank politics?