According to the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, by 2081, Assam will become a Muslim majority State. Assam is another Kashmir in the making.
How Muslims are outpacing Hindus in numbers in Assam has become a cause of deep concern among the demographers. On February 8, 2010, News Live Television channel of Guwahati telecast the interview of a Muslim villager of Lakhimpur. He has 4 wives and 30 children (all presented on the screen). On February 19, 2010, another television channel DY365, Lal Mia of Morigaon with 2 wives and 20 children was shown. The number of such families with multiple children cannot be counted spread across the villages of 27 districts of Assam.
According to Knowledgeable circles, this is a common phenomenon in the minority dominated areas of the State. A worried Dr Ilias Ali, a well known personality of the state, devoted to encourage and inspire the Muslims to adopt family planning once made a significant observation at a sterilisation programme at Bongaigaon on March 11, 2010 which was carried by the English daily The Sentinel. Bitterly criticising the mullahs and moulvis holding them responsible for playing negative role on family planning, he said, “All our adversities are being created by population explosion which is more dangerous than an atom bomb.”
Dr Ilias Ali, trainer cum state nodal officer for male and sterilisation programmes, once said in order to popularise ‘Iran model’ among the Muslims, the concept of small family in the community has been planned. The Islamic leaders have been involved in the programme in Iran. Scientific explanation of family planning according to the Quran is being given to both male and female in that country. Now nothing is heard or known about the implementation of ‘Iran model’ in the state of Assam where everything is lost in the vote-bank politics.
As there is no check on Muslim population, it has its own impact on the demographic structure of Assam. The decadal Census report of 2011 based on religion has come out with the finding that while the growth rate of Hindu population is 61.46 per cent that of Muslim 34.22 per cent. Hindu population has come down by 4.4 per cent while Muslim has gone up by 4.42 per cent. In the context of Assam, the growth rate has been alarming. The Census report of 2001 has listed 6 districts of the State, Dhubri, Goalpara, Karimganj, Hailakandi, Naogaon and Barpeta as Muslim majority and projected 3 other districts of Morigaon, Darrang and Bongaigaon to become minority dominated in another decade. This has come true.
The facts and figures as outlined by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Government of Assam, reveal the decadal growth rate of population of Muslims during 1981-1991 in the districts of Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta and Hailakandi has been abnormally high. It is also worth mentioning that while the decadal growth of Hindu population during 1991-2001 has been 20.3 per cent and that of Muslims is 36 per cent. If this trend continues, as projected by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, by 2081, Assam will become a Muslim majority state. And this is not a myth, but a reality.
The projection states by 2021, Hindu population will stand at 60.41 per cent, Muslim growth to touch 35.90 per cent. In 2031, while Hindu population grows by 58.17 per cent, Muslim by 38.39 per cent. In 2041, the percentage of growth for Hindu will be 55.93 and for Muslim 40.88. In 2051, Hindu will grow by 53.69 per cent and Muslim by 43.37 per cent. The percentage of growth in 2061 will have 51.45 for Hindu and for Muslim 45.86. Hindu will be reduced to 49.21 per cent and Muslim will grow by 48.75 per cent by 2071. And 2081 will see total topsy-turvy when the State will become Muslim majority as the projection speaks of 46.97 per cent growth for Hindus and 51.64 per cent for Muslims.
Religious Demography of Bharat published by Chennai based Centre of Policy Studies, forewarning about the growth of population in Assam says the fate of Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir is well known. Assam is another Kashmir in the making. The J&K pattern of ethnic cleansing in Assam cannot be a myth. This phenomenal growth of Muslim population reflects on the unabated influx from Bangladesh. It is now more than pronounced in the fast changing demographic structure of the State. It is of no use recalling the historic All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) movement on the foreigners’ issue which began with a bang and ended in a whimper. It was more an emotional upsurge than a movement against the foreigners. One could still recall posters in some towns of Assam which read “Bharatiya dogs go back.” Who were these dogs?” During this 6 year long agitation (1979-1985), population of Assam recorded the highest growth of 36.3 per cent as against Bharat’s growth of 24.7 per cent. Question is now being raised against whom the movement was launched.
Worst still, when AGP, the political wing of AASU came to power in 1985 and ruled the State for long 10 years, as DN Bezboruah, editor of The Sentinel in an editorial, commented, “It forgot the very issue or agenda on which it was elected and sent to Dispur.” Census reports will speak how the British experts had forewarned of a situation when infiltrators would rule the roost in Assam. Way back in 1911, the report had described the situation as alarming. Llyod estimated in 1921, the total number of illegal settlers as 3 lakh. CS Mullan in his census report of 1931 placed the number of immigrants to be over half a million. He had warned that the unchecked wave was likely to ‘alter permanently’ the future of Assam and that “in another 30 years, Sibsagar will be the only part of Assam in which an Assamese will find himself at home.”
The measures taken by the authorities to restrict the movement of Muslim immigrants had been inadequate mostly due to the interference in administrative approach by vested political lobbies. Mullan’s forecast came true when in 1951, the Muslim population increased to 1,995,936 as compared to 2,50,470 in 1871 and 1,279,388 in 1931. This led E H Parkyntein to comment in his census report of 1961 that “peaceful invasion” of Assam by ‘the advancing hordes of Mymensinghias’ (people of Mymensingh district in East Pakistan) is the most important event for the state in 50 years.
The current situation in Assam was clearly anticipated by Lord Wavel , Viceroy, when he noted in his Journal that he saw Sir Saadula’s “grow more food campaign” as counter-productive measure that would eventually generate many tensions in the region. That the 4,13,029 immigrants would become a permanent liability of Assam became apparent when the Union Government signed an agreement with the Bangladesh Government clearly stipulating that anyone having entered Assam prior to March 25, 1971 would not be accepted by Bangladesh. “It reflected a method in the madness of the Congress bosses, both in the Centre and in the State. This served their narrow political interests as it benefited immensely from the “block-votes” of a large section of Muslim immigrants, VIK Sarin mentioned in his book Bharat’s Northeast in Flames.
Quite significantly, mention has to be made of the Census report of 1951 which was described by Census Superintendent R B Bhagaiwala ICS, as ‘a biological miracle.’ His observation was a grim pointer to the fact that the state bureaucrats of the time were more interested to swell the number of Assamese speaking people at the pleasure of illegal immigrants. Assamese speaking people rose to 56.7 per cent in 1951 as compared to 31.4 in 1931 while those of Bengali speaking people declined to 16.5 per cent as against 26.8 per cent in 1931. Similarly, Hindi speaking people showed decline to 3.8 per cent in 1951 from 7.6 per cent in 1931. Bhagaiwala noted on the apprehension of being identified as is Illegal immigrants, many of them recorded their mother tongue as Goalparia, Naogongian, and Kamrupia. There being no such language, the State bureaucracy was consulted which advised the census staff to include them under Assamese. The Census Superintendent found ‘devious motive’ of the neo Assamese who in subsequent census returned back to their mother tongue Bengali. Today, the swelling number of Muslim immigrants has made them the ‘fulcrum of power’ in Assam. What the past and present chief ministers of the State have to say even after all the upheaval is more amazing.
When asked about the presence of illegal migrants in Assam, it is on record that Hiteswar Saikia, Chief Minister of the time, admitted 30 lakh of them in the State. His statement was made on the floor of the Assembly on April 10, 1992. Two days later, he denied on being threatened by Abdul Muhib Mazumdar, Law Minister, and some other MLAs of the ruling party. It was a brazen volte-face made by him. The present Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi while addressing a public rally at Juria in Naogaon on December 2, 2012 said, “There is no Bangladeshi national in Assam.” When the Chief Ministers of Assam are afraid of calling a spade a spade, one might ask what for so many Foreigners’ Tribunals have been set up if there is not a single Bangladeshi.
Jyoti Lal Choudhury from Silchar