I came across a nice article by Mr. Wasbir Hussain on the demographic uncertainties facing Assam. It was published in the South Asia Terrorism Portal in September, 2004.
I have always been vocal about the problems that are arising in Assam because of illegal immigration taking place from Bangladesh. Let me reaffirm here that I am no way an anti Muslim person. I respect the religion and the people alike but here I am worried about my state. I have absolutely no problem with the indigenous people of my state including the Muslims who are there as an integral part of Assam. But, Assam is facing a crisis which might lead to a loss of its own identity and I am concerned about that. The consequences could be gruesome and the indigenous people may lose their home place forever.
According to the 2001 national census, approximately 30% of the population in Assam consists of Muslims. And the districts which are near the Bangladesh border are predominantly Muslim majority ones. Bangladesh is a small country but with a population which is far beyond its control. The easy way out for the people there is to sneak into India through the porous borders. Better ’employment opportunities’ and a state government which always turns blind eye towards this problem helps them in making Assam their abode.
The BSF soldiers guarding the borders are as corrupt as any government official in the state secretariat. They compromise with the country’s own security for a few extra dimes. Once, a single member of a Bangladeshi family is IN, he will ensure that he will bribe the BSF and get the rest of his family members inside within a short period of time. After that, they spread all the way to other parts of the state… Then they either encroach into the government owned lands like sanctuaries, national parks or manage to stay on the river islands or on their banks.
The implications could be aplenty. I will divide all of them into a few different categories:
Geo-political: All of us know about the vote bank politics in the country. Now, these immigrants very well know that if bootlicker party like Congress is in power, then they do not have anything to worry about. On the other side, we have the AGP (Asom Gana Parishad) and BJP (Bharatiya Janta Party) as opposition which has never been formidable. AGP is trying to make up for its lost grounds whereas BJP is still trying to make its presence felt in the state. The opposition is not united and their vote bank is dwindling. So, getting these two parties back onto the stage is going to be very difficult unless the people of Assam realize that it is now or never. Looking at the awareness level and the lackadaisical attitude of the Assamese masses, that possibility also seems like a dream which will never become a reality. Another major issue that is arising out is the emergence of Islamic militancy in the state. There are many major Muslim Liberation jihadi factions already operational in Assam. AL Qaeda is building a follower base with help from ISI’s presence in Bangladesh. ULFA, which once fought the ‘Indian government’ for the sovereignty of the state, is now no more than a puppet in the hands of ISI. The whole media is focused on Kashmir and its politics but taking advantage of that very same callousness, ISI has built a nice base in Assam. If not controlled now itself, this will spread like a gangrene which will destroy the entire north east.
Social: I being a native of Assam can very well differentiate the Bangladeshis from the indigenous people. These immigrants are living on tight budgets. They work hard to earn a few bucks and manage to survive. But, when they see that people are relatively affluent, they resort to bad means. Theft, dacoity, robbery etc. have increased in the state. It is very risky now-a-days to walk late or leave the doors ajar. Incidents of rape, killings and other such crimes are heard more often than not. I do not put the blame solely on these immigrants, but 80-85 % of the time it is these people who are involved in such bad activities. Our social security is at stake.
Cultural: This is also very sad. These immigrants are also influencing the cultural scene in Assam. They are slowly displacing the indigenous people from the hot beds of Assamese cultures like Brotodua and Barpeta. To add to the woes, you would see modern pop songs in Assam made exclusively for these Bangladeshis in their native dialects.
Governmental: Thanks to the ‘foresightedness’ of our current CM, a crucial ministry was given to some one who is a pro-Bangladeshi. All major recruitment drives for home guards, Assam Police constables and officers have become favorable for these immigrants. There are people in the state ministry who love them and who work for them. Now imagine a situation where more than half of the Assam Police force comprises of people who are either Bangladeshis or pro-Bangladeshis. What will happen to justice for the indigenous people? Will ever justice be imparted? I doubt so… More so the same thing will happen in other departments as well. Take some 10 odd years, and you will see that these immigrants will start getting precedence in all state government run institutions like medical colleges, engineering colleges, universities and vocational courses. The government funds created for the welfare of the people of India will be wasted on these illegal immigrants.
Readers might be wondering how these people manage to show their identity as being indigenous. Forged documents are not hard to create.
The IMDT Act was revoked but the state government has come up with another replacement. I do not understand why the opposition cannot stand up to the state government. Why such laziness when they also know that nothing is going well? State bodies like AASU who have great bargaining powers should have been able to do something material by now.
I want to do something but don’t know what to do. Thinking about the state always discourages me and fills my heart with sadness. What is it that the youngsters who are good can do? There are so many talented individuals who are from Assam and who are proud of their state. These people want to do something worthwhile but it seems no one knows what to do. I am no exception.