Analysis : Infiltration Ruining Assam
Intro:People of Assam are in serious trouble as it is slowly becoming home to Bangladeshi migrants
There is a simple doctrine that the resources of any country belong to the citizens of that country only. During his election campaign Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue of Bangladeshi infiltration which has been viewed from the communal lens by the vested interest groups. What is not understood is that the issue has far reaching implications: Not only it has changed the demography of various districts of Assam as it has become home to most of the migrated people, it has its socio-economic implications also.
According to the Assam pact signed in 1985, Bangladeshi migrants are to be identified and to be deported to their country but no concrete actions have been taken so far. Even after the lapse of considerable time period, forget about their departure, the number of illegal migrants coming to India has increased manifold which has further increased the problem and its magnitude.
In 2005, then Governor of Assam, Lt Gen (Retd.) Ajai Singh in a letter to the Home Ministry had stated that around 6,000 Bangladeshis enter Assam every day. Even the Supreme Court also said that the state is facing “external aggression” due to influx of Bangladeshis. The government of India has not released religion-wise data for 2011 census, but based on 2001 census out of the 23 districts; Hindus are in minority in 6 districts.
As per 2001 census the decadal growth rate of Muslim population was 29.3% as against 14.9% of the Hindus, almost twice. Growth rate in the Assamese population in 2001 was 18.9% while the growth rate in the Muslim population was 29.3% due to infiltration. The 256 Km Indo-Bangla border is prone to infiltration because of the geographical conditions and to further increase the menace our government has issued directive to BSF that infiltrators should not be mishandled.
Over the period, the immigrants have intruded the government resources and the wasteland of indigenous farmers. Apart from this, the male population of the Bangladeshi migrants forms the manual workforce in Assam like house construction workers, house painters, rickshaw pullers, gardeners, field workers, road construction workers, vegetable vendors, etc. Women immigrants mostly work as maids. These migrants are willing to work more, at odd hours and at a lesser pay and as a result they are snatching the job opportunities from the locals. The situation has worsened because the illegal migrants have managed to procure Indian citizenship by producing documents obtained illegaly. The migrants are also getting the benefit of various government sponsored schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act, National Rural Health Management at the cost of legitimate citizens of this country. A report sent by the former Assam Governor, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) S K Sinha to President K R Narayanan in 1998 also outlines the same. Lt. Gen. S K Sinha wrote in his report that “The influx of illegal migrants is turning the lower Assam districts into a Muslim-majority region. It will only be a matter of time when a demand for their merger with Bangladesh may be made….”
The biggest issue in this matter is that our political parties start playing their communal card and the vote-bank policy takes over the national interest. The problem which should be seen with a nationalistic approach is being viewed from the communal lens result of which unwanted appeasement policy comes into play.
Deportation of the illegal migrants has certain practical challenges like unilateral deportation in defiance of the country to which the migrants are sent is not possible. The attitude of the Bangladeshi government is totally non-cooperative in this regard and in most of the cases the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) refuses to accept the migrants handed over by BSF. We have achieved very small with our diplomacy and now preventive measures needs to be taken to strengthen the border security. Bangladesh is taking strong measures against the Rohingya Muslim migrants coming to its land from Myanmar but India is acting like a mute spectator. We must remember that this land belongs to Indians and that we have to act swiftly against this silent invasion.
-Shshank Saurav (The writer is a chartered accountant)