BORDERS, POLICIES AND POLITICS
A COMPREHENSIVE UNDERSTANDING OF INDIA'S IMMIGRATIONPOLICY
TAKING THE ISSUE OF BANGLADESHI IMMIGRANTS ON A REAR VIEW MIRROR : GROUP 6
UNDERSTANDING HOW SOCIAL SCIENCE VIEWS MOBILITY IN THE CONTEXT OF IMMIGRATION
MODELS OF IMMIGRATION : A CLASSICAL SOCIAL SCIENCE TOOL AND ITS USAGES
At an existential level all social science theories fondly hold back to the embryonic idea that nothing can be anchored in vacuum and that everything is positioned relatively. Even the slightest and smallest cue is adjudged putting it alongside its coefficients. It is advisable to think of it in terms of umbilical ties that cannot be snapped off for reasons whatsoever. Bearing this as the ground on which any theoretical venture treads logistically it becomes imperative to conceive of models, frameworks and other concept neutralizers from the common toolkit of the academician and the policy planners. The entire bargain is positioned on a tough terrain, the object of it (the supposed leeway of the outsider into national boundary) and the method to it (the method of triangulation, building several parallel inroads which all invariably lead to the same end but with varying means) are both equally elevated propositions, and the yardstick to put them into a comprehensible manner comes not all in a neat package. The clause of mobility does not work on any rationale of cause and effect. But it has always had the buoyancy to stay afloat and amassing milieu aiming a mass exodus. We do find in it a mirror image of factuality but this is a mere projection which with the wit of chance and has many creases inert. The call of reason has been by far much dear to the entire enterprise of modernity but the pinch of reason is always a pinch to taste and the measure of reason and rationality always comes with conditions applied and with the angular projections of subjectivity casting silhouette in its very backdrop. But we need not propose a neat scatter diagram of mobility to capture the carcass of how and to where a movement is made? And what is the immediate period it resonates to? We can move beyond the art of statistics and capture popular impressions of modernism via things that have been in proximity to the masses. A duality in apparent or latent terms needs to be always a part of dialogue building. Modernity happens by every flick of luck so much at ease with all the different bands of duality that it slowly transcends into a base of multiplicity and this happens to be the crux of the problem that mobility poses and that we seek to resolve. There are three models which are basically put to use by the academicians and the social scientist in their attempt to describe the immigration that are used in their bid to ascertain the types and levels of immigration. firstly, they use the gravitational model which tries to hold the perspective that there is a certain point of saturation at which a chunk of population migrates leaving its home-base. the secondly, The second type of immigration model often termed as the one which keeps distance as the proposed parameter in seeking to understand immigration. the third model is one which tries to see the immigration policies and the problems emanating using the push factors and the pull factor logic, the push factor is the one which compels an individual to migrate or leave his homeland, land of birth and then pull factors are the ones that lure or prompt one to migrate to the destination. the push and pull factor model which we have discussed/ pointed out in the third instance is the one which can be possibly put to use in this case.
THE CRISIS OF " INDIAN IDENTITY" :
The most distributing development in the twentieth century Assam, has keen that of the spike in the population arising out of the influx of migrant Sammyjyal Bhattacharya, an undisputed student leader of Assam and have highlighted the identity concerns of Assamese people in the following words ‘there is the instance of a long peaceful mass movement from 1979-1985 against the illegal foreigners after which the Assam Accord was signed in 985 but till now we have not been benefited from the Accord..... the forest lands, the towns and agricultural fields all occupied by the illegal Bangladeshis. And this definitely poses a threat to the identity of the indigenous people of the State. Assam movement which was primarily launched to drive out the illegal migrants from Assam is one of the largest mass-based movements in India’s post independence period. But so far, an amicable sol........... of the issue has not been found nor could Govt. ....the illegal immigrants from Assam on the other hand, the psyche of the Assamese speaking middle class states in becoming more aggressive and ultra-nationalistic. Therefore, we would like to propose a new way of looking at the illegal migration issue since the existing ........ nationalist position an gradual communalization of the issue could serve nobody except the politicians for narrow political means.
The politics of Accord also manifests the character of the Indian state. The Assam Accord has created more discord with the state that has led to the growth of a more radical group with a demand of an independent Assam and it has also strained relationship between the Assamese speaking people and the other ethnic tribal groups of the state. Crux of the argument is most of the accords that the Indian State has signed with various sub national groups have never resolved the substantive issues they have merely capitalized on the conflict fatigue of the rebels and the people who have supported these monts.
The accord agreed to devise formulas for identifying expelling and disfranchising the illegal migrants. The regional Govt. which was formed out o this Assam agitation could not do much as constituently the citizenship is under the central Govt’s jurisdiction. The illegal migrants (determination of Tribunals) IM (OT) Act, which was passed by the Parliament made the last more difficult Major causes of the Accord thus remain unimplemented. Therefore, the non-implementation of the Accord remains to be the ...... of the issue and is hogging the politics of Assam for a long time.
ASSMESE IDENTITY CONSTRUCTION – NEED FOR AN ACCOMODATIVE IDENTITY.
Undoubtedly, Assam needs some mechanism to control immigration into the State. The state can no longer afford to absorb more immigrants as in terms of population growth Assam has been one of the fastest growing states in the country. However, to bring an end to the immigration problem border is not the most effective mechanisms. South Asia is the only region in the world where we don’t have a well documented or legalized citizenship policy towards each other. There are essentially three ways of recognizing a citizen – Jus Soli or birth within the territory of a country. Jus Sanguins or descent from a citizen, and citizenship by naturalization. If Jus Sanguins incorporates the principle of citizenship gained through blood ties to citizens, the other two principles can incorporate the ethnically/ linguistically different outsiders.
The homeland discourse of Assam and the North East-whether the Assamese, the Bodos, the Karkis, the Nagas and so many tend to define political communities in static and exclusionary terms.
In may parts of the world, the immigrants a re-recognized as citizens. This I being done in most parts of the world. In Europe, most of the countries have been extending the citizenship right to second generation immigrants.
Therefore, the identity discourse of the North East can’t keep on cornering the immigrants as the aleens for ever and use them as ‘mohra by a few political parties.
The Assamese Society is an immigrant’s society – doesn’t matter since when this has begun. On the top of that, the concept of identity is not a frozen concept. Identity is constructed from time to time the crystallization of ethnic identity, thus is not static, it very often fund depending on the socio-politico, economic and cultural situations. The South Asian people have multi-layers of identity and they utilize that identity depending on situations and contests. These layers of identities are constructed on the basis of religion, community, gender, caste, profession, class, language and region. All these identities are important are the community evokes that factor identity construction which they believe has been jeopardized threatened due to various factors. Absorbing the immigrants into the greater Assamese culture of giving them general amnesty does not mean that the immigration will be a continuous affairs in the state of affairs in Assam. Question is how to stop further immigration into Assam. Besides, there is no doubt that the immigrants puts a lot of pressure on the land holding patterns of Assam. The border however is not the most effective mechanism for stopping migration to Assam. The issue of further restriction of the foreigners to India most keep in mind the historical relationship between the two groups of people in India and Bangladesh. Till 1947, the groups of people were not restricted by any border and territory. People used any territory and landmass unless restricted by political regime. However, this has come to an abrupt halt after the operation of the idioms of nation states.
GOING BEYOND BORDERS
The leaders of the Assam movement and the dominant nationalist school in Assam frequently later about immediate computation of fencing as the panacea of foreigner’s issue. But it can hardly stop the .......... manual labourers and they easily find ways of cutting the fencing. Border or fencing is not the solution of the illegal migration problem of Assam. Even physical protection of the border will not ensure total proof. Studies show that the informal or illegal trade takes place with prior info of the enforcement and security agencies. It has been ascertained that about 60% of Bangladeshi traders paid .........between 3 to 6% of their turnover while 78% of the Indian traders paid 1% to 3% of their total output. Assam in particular is not heavy doses emotions and ultra-nationalistic rhetorics but a creative or perhaps new way of looking at the problem. The state too instead of adopting a tribal to tribal approach should try to resolve the identity issue of the sub-national groups by involving the various representatives of the civil society groups/ The identity movements of the NE which are based on exclusionary principles ignored the historical reality of pluralism. The Brahmaputra valley which is the core of Assam’s identity politics has been a shared homeland of innumerable racial, religious, linguistic and ethnic groups. The issue has been having the NE politics right from the very independence when Gopinath Bardoloi was fighting the NE politics right from the very independence. There are lots of suggestions to ..... immigration going beyond the fencing model of India vociferously supported by our ultra nationalist leader. Sanjay Hazarika in focusing on two issue identity cards and moral permits. Indeed they are vital suggestions which require further deliberations. The most important step shall perhaps be the legalization of the border trade in the NE and Bangladesh and NE and Myanmas sector.
Thus, any solution of the ........ immigrants issue from Bangladesh must address two areas – the issue of cultural intersection and co-existence or what some vi.... call assimilation of immigrants with the Assamese culture and the issue of economic development of the border areas. To conclude what is required in tacking the illegal immigration from Bangladesh to NE in general and Assam in particular is not heavy doses emotions and ultra nationalistic rhetorics but a creative or perhaps new way of looking at the problem. The state too instead of adopting a tribal to tribal approach should try to resolve the identity issues of the sub-national groups by involving the various representatives of the civil society groups. The identity movements of the NE which are based on exclusionary principles ignored the historical reality of pluralism. The Brahmaputra valley which is the core of Assam’s identity politics has been a shared homeland of innumerable racial, religious, linguistics, and ethnic groups (Hussain, 2000 EPW: 4523). The issue has been haunting the NE politics right from the very independence when Gopinath Bardoloi was fighting the NE politics right from the very independence with Jawaharlal Nehru for settling the refugees in the so-called virgin land of Assam (Barooah 1990: 30-31). Perhaps time is ripe to start a process of dialogue between the Assamese nationalist elite and the leaders of the immigrants for an amicable solution of the problem, otherwise mere highlighting the danger of immigration serve nobody for it is better to light a candle than blame the darkness forever.
DOWN THE MEMORY LANE; HISTORICAL CONSTITUTION OF BANGLADESH AND THE FURTHER COMPLICATIONS IN ITS CONCEPTION
An obvious impulse is to provide narrative as guiding pointers which could very flamboyantly as recollected pieces from history and time ensemble trust and to revisit in idea the remains of a political past which had tell upon the social life as well. Into the study just against the rightfully befitting backdrop which could then permit inroads into the honey combed complexities. It tells of transition and passage of power and authority from the erstwhile sovereigns of the land to the new ruling imperialists but this passage was not by default one without opposing tendencies, it was flawed in ways more than one it could not in any sane capacity be recalled with ease and fluency, embroiled with many a twists and turns the ultimate shape that this transition took was not without a dent. The fault line appears somewhere along the contours of internal polity which merge into the utter handicapped ill instructed faculties of thought toying with the mission of nation building which had with an elusive and insipid pretext misunderstanding so covered and layered a power structure at the mercy of the western courtroom which we would draw upon in the later part of the analysis. The pit of irony rests at the heart of the attempts at very manipulative ulterior of the imperialist regime that had with so uncanny a strand of humor taken to alteration and exacerbation of the temple conflict that what could easily been passed off as a minor rift had progressively gained a kind of resilience and in spite of repeated attempts at arbitration it only loomed larger and stood insurmountable. Firstly, it does not take long for any one grappling with issues of immigration and keeping Bangladesh to arrive at an ingrained understanding of how strategic chunk of human population is being deported outside the heartland. That a large mass of immigrants shift base and that they originate in Bangladesh and that this shifting of base brings in ruptures
However the question of migration or rather the inert implications of immigration are always lined up with issues that have corollaries, there is the point of bilateral and multilateral In it we find a blunt monotone narrative dominated by a single line of thought for most of its part becomes overwhelming the prospects too have changed sides
Narrative of any phenomena rests on a framework, especially when the idea is to think of instances from the past which all points towards the end of a period. It is hard however to establish this framework as the end of any period comes in stages. The case of the transition of the Indian state is no different. This transition had fundamentally altered previous equations of power and sovereignty along with the equations of unity and diversity. The issue of Bangladeshi inflow is not just about the observable and overt movement of limbo citizens from one territory to another; it is important to harp on about the underlying layers of reality. It is a chronicle of faulty transition, identity politics, conflict and the fear of majority becoming the minority.
At the outset, the idea was to carve out homogenous political and social units out of a common plane which is intrinsically heterogeneous in nature. This idea was enthusiastically put into practice which led to the sculpturing of India and Pakistan; subsequently, it’s bi-product Bangladesh. The spontaneous and artificial sketching of boundaries which primarily sought to create a filtered social and political space did not go down well empirically. It abruptly imposed prohibitions on mobility and introduced notions of citizenship, nation-state, rights and obligations.However; the society was not yet ready to be on familiar terms with such heavy concepts.For a common Bangladeshi,who bears the brunt of economic distress,political instability and rampant communal discord.The boundary or the nation state was of little importance.The only fact that mattered to him was his urge to make a better living.`
Bangladesh was sculptured in 1971 but infiltration of Bangladeshis into Assam has a deeper history. Muslim peasants were encouraged to squat on vacant land in Assam by the British officials. After partition, the boundary was hurriedly sketched.However,the border remained porous as till 1952 as there were no legal arrangements to restrict such movement.Even,after 1952,when the passport system was introduced between India and Pakistan,it could hardly be a disincentive against illegal movement of Bangladeshis into the Indian Border
The “citizens” journey takes off from Post colonial period. Post colonial period is important as it throws light on the struggle of identities and it is this struggle of identity which has plagued the citizen. As any state or territory enters into the post colonial phase, its traditional rules of living are left behind and there might be exploration and questioning of some of the basic ideals. It is at this time that artificial boundaries and stereotypical accounts of who should belong to the land and who should belong to the land and who should not enters the public discourse. This creates an entirely new set of conceptions which evolve out the “us” and “them” mentality and this leads to misconceptions an misconnections.
Theoretically it is possible to bring the scope of understanding of immigration and its consequent fallouts to a level where identity and its very conception becomes the main stay of argument. Also, it is interesting to observe that identity itself has a social character. Cross border migration is a multi faceted phenomena in zones of perennial conflict. Even the issue of Bangladeshi illegal immigration can be clubbed under this category, the problem centering these immigrants is a flawed concept as no linear theory can be used to understand it. However it bears certain intrinsic features of conflict and prominent theme which runs through the entire issue is that of endangered identity.
The border in the recent times due to the mismanagement of the state and policy making apparatus has become porous.The immigrants who adopts the natural course of sustainance after reaching the other side of the border comes into conflict with the local masses as both these groups, one being that of the native and the outsider have to fend for their sustainance on the basic of the same stipulated resource base. In doing so what most naturally develops is a sense of alienation on the part of the foreigners resulting in the further divide between the in group and the out group crystallizing around the age old categories of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Identity for each group participating in the situation of conflict becomes a bastion for survival to which they stick to so as he further their cause. Each group, that of the native residents and the much speculated illegal immigrants both carve for themselves their own niche with which they hold several political ideologies and symbolic meanings which are all synonymous with their common quest for attaining a prominence in social life. Then the question arises is that whether this social life is but a shared crown for both the groups; the natives and the foreigners. There in comes the alied concept of intergroup behavior which signals towards a realistic group conflict which leads to the creation of antagonistic inter group relations that can be seen materializing in the close quarters of everyday interactions between the native assamese who closely stands guard to his homeland sees the immigrant bangladeshi with an air of suspicion.
What is seen on the part of the immigrants is that the individual undergoes fundamental transformation which results in him aspiring for a stable source of political and social power. As seen in the context of Assam. The foreigners formed their own political camp.The camouflaged rise of the AIUDF is an unmistakeable pointer to that direction.This political outfit demands for an autonomous area for Muslims in lower Assam
Whereas, the insiders aim is to resist and create and immunity against the immigrant and their political ventures which might repel his authority and rule him out and establish an alternative stand of the immigrants. The anxiety on the part of the natives is abstract or ideological since it views the outsider as a numerical capacity to overpower the natives The Assam Agitation was a manifestation of the aforesaid anxieties. CLAUSE 6. of the Assam Accord, which was signed between the representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement, in the presence of Shri Rajiv Gandhi to put an end to the Assam agitation, suggests that constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards would be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
The issue of immigration is a reflection of quest for survival, although interconnections between the two might not be apparent at a superficial level yet one cannot deny that in inter connection does exist. Its reflections can be seen in the case of inability of citizens in a world where nation states take pride in asserting their boundaries and territorial exclusiveness. The fact that any infiltration tries to intrude into the territory of a sovereign state basically points out his attempt to survive completion within the social space. The struggle for survival is a natural instinct. However, this tendency to prevail others is not exclusive to the individual alone, social groups as a whole too try to replicate this similar pattern as they try to outdo other groups while contesting for the same set of social privileges and life chances. However life chances and social privileges do not come easy. The principle pull factor is that the standard of living is higher than in Bangladesh. Therefore, immigration as a technique is adopted to ensure that these are attained. So going technically and logically in the sequence of events immigrations is actually a natural phenomenon. So it cannot be deemed as problematic phenomena.
The social world for the immigrant is riddled with tension which aggravates into conflict. There is however at the very outset no superficial manifestation of this conflict although tensions are often sustained in the overall system which might have its implications on the way resources are strategically distributed. Certain portions of the society may feel the pinch of scarcity in terms of resource distribution. This is especially true in the case of the illegal immigrants in questions who are positioned precariously in a state system where their newly native state is not equipped to addressed their concerns and worries at the practical level. This prolonged conflict which takes root ultimately insights them to migrate and find new political territories and social spaces so as to assure at least a very minimal level of sustenance .On the other end, the course of illegal immigration has tremendously altered pressure dynamics on land which is already scarce.
INSTITUTIONALIZED BORDER GUARDS: FRONTIERS ON THE VIGIL
Why an instituted regiment is always on the prowl (in the case of the concerned sample story the BSF has been religiously deployed)? And how certain terrains have been overtly sanctified (this holds true in the case of the indo -Bangladesh too whereby the frontier and the regions surrounding the frontier have become the overtly prized territory)? The point which cuts across all these is the ministerial talks and the highly anticipated diplomatic endeavor would offer little on the table since most of these have become defunct and the duels between parties continue however by duels we do not mean direct confrontation or fire power/ gun power on the show but it may be very latent forms or invisible forms of friction . Within the block which pushes for anti immigration policies has been ruptures and internal feuds within opposite camps of the similar ideological blocks is understood. Very minimally four pointers that would best aid in tackling the there is again the person who is stranded and the politics of being outside a defined Geo political mass, where is he to seek asylum? Or whether an asylum is the right call? In 2003 something came just out of the blue that left the already precarious diplomatic climate completely exhausted, 213 tribal nomads had cross the border, what further took this to the something changed , the air of compatibility which had been doing the rounds had suddenly vanished it all came down tumbling to square one. The ray of hope which very mildly asserted its prominence and the atmosphere of certainty which somehow had congregated around the issue had all disappeared in thin air.
CONCEPT OF LEBENSARAUM AND THE CROSS CONTINENT COMPARISON WITH OTHER PRECARIOUS BORDERS
Migration has been a longstanding bastion however by far little has been made out of it and a good some part of it is passed off as a resourceful residue. It is always but sewn to the design of commendable post fact-um analysis of instills in any novice observer in spite of and above all dry and technical grounding of the subject matter it blesses the process of analysis with the additional mileage of instantly recognizing the themes to be valued, disposing the ideal way of surmounting the author on the altar and identifying him as the only legitimate authority it instead helps in stooping down from the high horse of state policy and inspires confidence in objective commentary. Numerically a great confidence has been Military discourse does come with its own burden of being war ready and immunity repellent, however what it can deliver to this argument is the concept of Lebensraum (the “LIVING SPACE”) what this point holds is the credibility that Bangladesh( erstwhile east Pakistan) aiming(hypothetically) to capture parts of Assam, which could then become crucial as it might very strategically act as the reserve of resources and as an extended mass of land which could very potentially be put to use both economically and militarily as an add on mileage.
ASSAM AND ITS HISTORICAL CONSTITUTION : ON A REARVIEW MIRROR
Something that is unchanging may is the constant gimmick at putting up a non porous boundary and when this technically fails to yield a great trust what credits non porous boundaries as a sort of specialized immunity
What is even more interesting and deserves a space in when the matter is brought to the table for discussion is the historical plot is crucial.
Migration has been a longstanding bastion however by far little has been made out of it and a good some part of it is passed off as a resourceful residue. It is always but sewn to the design of commendable post fact-um analysis of instills in any novice observer in spite of and above all dry and technical grounding of the subject matter it blesses the process of analysis with the additional mileage of instantly recognizing the themes to be valued, disposing the ideal way of surmounting the author on the altar and identifying him as the only legitimate authority it instead helps in stooping down from the high horse of state policy and inspires confidence in objective commentary.
First of all, let me take you quickly through a few incidents that have occurred in Assam in the recent past.
In 2007 when the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) launched an oust-Bangladeshi campaign from Upper Assam in the wake of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland throwing out large number of suspected Bangladeshis from their territories, one pro-migrant group called All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) threatened to expel all the Assamese people from Dhubri, Goalpara and Barpeta districts.
It was around the same time that an MLA of the Assam United democratic Front (AUDF) headed by Haji Badruddin Ajmal had raised a demand for creation of a ‘Muslim Autonomous Region’ consisting of Dhubri, Goalpara and Barpeta districts of lower Assam. Two years before that, in 2005 to be precise, Ajmal had launched AUDF in the wake of the Supreme Court striking down the controversial Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals)Act by describing it as ultra vires to the Constitution of India.
Again, when the entire country was celebrating the centenary of ‘vande mataram’, AUDF president Ajmal and many other Muslim leaders resisted a move to observe the centenary in educational institutions. They openly said that they would not allow any Muslim student to sing ‘vande mataram’ during this country wide celebration.
Next, migrants attack villages of indigenous communities including Bodo and Garo tribals in Udalguri and Darrang districts in October 2008. Media reports about the unfurling of a Pakistani flag in one village amid the clashes created a nationwide furore. The State Government, instead of conducting an enquiry and finding out the culprits concentrated more on defending the flag by describing it as an Eid flag!
Now, let us go back to 2007. When the AASU,AJYCP and BJYM tried to apprehend the people expelled from Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland and hand them over to the police for legal action, the state government worked overtime to claim that those people were ‘genuine’ Indian citizens from Barpeta, Dhubri and Goalpara districts.
The above are only a few instances of what is going on in Assam as a fall-out of large scale infiltration and presence of Bangladeshis. It was only in January 11, 2009, that union home minister P. Chidambaram stated in the national capital that nationals from Bangladesh has ‘no business’ to be in India without permission. There was no reason as to why a large number of visas are being issued to the Bangladeshi nationals every month. (Source: The Assam Tribune, January 12, 2009)
Chidambaram also made it clear that the monitoring system to check whether a Bangladeshi coming to India had returned home or not after the expiry of his/her visa was ‘very ineffective’. This observation from none other than a home Minister of the country is indeed shocking.
This infiltration of Bangladeshis was also causing unexpected demographic changes and a lot of angst among the native population of Assam and West Bengal. There were also reports stating that the influx of people from Bangladesh has created ‘intractable problems’ by reducing the indigenous people to minority in ‘some parts’ in the region. (Source: The Assam Tribune, June 29, 2007.)
Lt Gen Sinha has stated that, ‘the silent invidious demographic invasion of Assam may result in the loss of the geo-strategically vital districts of Lower Assam.’ The influx of these illegal migrants is turning these districts into a Muslim-majority region. It will only then be a matter of time when a demand for their merger with Bangladesh may be made. Loss of Lower Assam will severe the entire land mass of the Northeast, from the rest of India.
Now look at the attitude of a government whose primary responsibility is to protect its citizens and also ensure the sovereignty of the territory that belongs to India. Just one unstarred question in the Assam State Assembly by Phani Bhusan Choudhary (AGP) and the reply that the Assam Accord implementation minister Bhumidhar Barman gave is enough to understand this. The question came upon January 6, 2009. But what the government did was: it carefully removed the detailed answer sheets from the copies that were sent to the Press room in the State Assembly complex so that the figures did not get coverage in the media.
According to Minister Barman’s reply, altogether, 19,304 persons confirmed as Bangladeshi infiltrators under the Foreigners’ Tribunals Act in Assam between 1986 and October 2008 had ‘absconded’. Similarly, 11,299 persons confirmed as Bangladeshi infiltrators by the IM (DT) Tribunals from 1985 to 19 July, 2005 had also ‘absconded’ in the State. This means, altogether 30,603 persons declared as Bangladeshi infiltrators are at large in Assam (or India).
Just ask yourself: Where are these people 30,000 odd Bangladeshis who do not have any allegiance to India, but can be, will be and are being utilized by well known forces against India? And that too within India, by merging with a section of the local population with whom they share the same roots!
The only answer given to this question by ministers and MLAs was ‘no information available.’
Second part of the same question: How many Bangladeshi infiltrators have been deported from Assam since the Assam Accord?
The answer: 29,100 up to October 2008, these, the minister Mohibul Haque said, include, 1547 deported under IM (DT)Act, 694 under Foreigners’ Act and 26,857 fresh and re-infiltrators.
If we add the number of ‘absconding’ 30,603 persons with the 29,100 persons who, according to the government, have been deported, comes to 59,703. Assam also has over 1.56 lakh ‘D’ voters who are not permitted to cast votes. These three figures together add up to more than 2.15 lakh persons. If this figure is only about Bangladeshis ‘depored’ and ‘absconding’ and those marked ‘D’ in electoral rolls- and this in the face of stiff resistance from some quarters and unwillingness on the part of the government in identifying of Bangladeshi infiltrators in Assam?
Now permit me to take you to Darrang and Udalguri. Three months after organised mobs having common roots in Bangladesh (and erstwhile East Bengal and East Pakistan) attacked indigenous communities, the district authorities were trying to send back the people from relief camps when they hit upon something very alarming.
The authorities first divided the relief camp inmates into three categories. List 1 consisted of people who had land documents as well as names in electoral rolls. List 2 had people who did not have land documents but definitely had names in the electoral rolls. And List 3 had those people who neither had land documents nor names in electoral rolls. Thus, after those enlisted in List 1 and 2 were sent back home, the authorities were left with about 3,000 persons whose very citizenship status has become doubtful. What are they if they are not Bangladeshi infiltrators?
The police should have immediately arrested them. But, even as the authorities initially kept these 3,000 odd people confined to some relief camps in Burigaon (in Darrang), Mousitha and Rowtabagan (in Udalguri), a good number of them have already slipped out and disappeared. That the infiltrators are in a position to challenge the authorities can be found out from the number of persons from this community who were killed in police firing in Darrang and Udalguri. Just try to find out the number of attacks on police stations and police parties as well as incidents of arms snatching from police in Darrang, Morigaon, Dhubri and Goalpara, and yet another dangerous picture emerges, one of Bangladeshi migrants becoming bold enough to challenge the Indian State!
It is also important to note that, it was in February that a Pir from Bangladesh named Pir Morza Bebbe Zaman Khwajababa Murshid Puri, who had come on a 25-day tour of Assam, also visited Darrang and Udalguri when there were controversies regarding a Pakistani flag being raised in a village called Jhargaon in Udalguri. Why a Bangladeshi Pir visited these districts has remained a big question which very few have bothered to ask.
After this process of infiltration we must mention that Barpeta district which had only one percent of Muslim population in 1911, today has a Muslim population of more than 59.36%. Infiltrators have already settled in large numbers on all vacant government land, char areas, VGRs, PGRs, railway land, embankments, river banks, wildlife sanctuaries and any other possible land.
NOW LOOK AT LAND GRABBING-
Systematic occupation of land, be it by way of illegal or forcible encroachment, coercion, creation of a situation for distress sale, and so on. Tribal belts and blocks envisaged in the early 20th century to protect the tribal communities from being wiped out and being robbed of their precious land, has already become a thing of the past. Large hordes of people clearly of East Bengal/East Pakistan Bangladesh origin are not only visible moving around in the Boroland Territorial Council Area, they also have occupied vast tracts of forests and government land in those districts. It was only last year that a group of people tried to forcibly occupy land belonging to a school in Kokrajhar district.
The chars-temporary islands that the Brahmaputra creates and then takes away after a few years were never ever occupied for human habitation by indigenous ethnic populations. The tradition has always been that indigenous ethnic communities always live away from the river, and looking back at the scenarios of the 1950s and the 1960s, one would clearly find that there were hardly any settler on the chars except in some portions between south Kamrup and Barpeta, and some portions between Goalpara and Dhubri.
According to the government, there are 1,017 revenue chars on the Brahmaputra in Assam of which 22 are attached to Majuli. While the 22 chars attached to Mjajuli have a population of 18,115 persons, the remaining 995 chars have a population of 7,86,644 persons. Of them again, only 6,758 are Hindus, the bulk are Muslims.
But now, all such chars have been occupied by people, the vast majority of whom are of EP/EB/Bangladesh origin. Just learning Assamese or establishing some Assamese medium schools do not and cannot legitimize them into Assamese, or for that matter Indian citizen.
The government has, instead of clearing the chars allowing the Brahmaputra to flow freely on its natural path, only compounded the problem by granting patta or land rights to such settlers. The State government has, between 2001 and 2008 already granted land pattas for2,897 bighas of land in the char areas of Dhubri, Barpeta and Goalpara.
Yet another strategy of land grabbing by the illegal migrants that has come to light is like this: just as the floods occur, groups of people appear in certain districts of the State, who claim that they were inhabitants of a certain char that has been just taken away by the Brahmaputra. Their political patrons immediately get to work, exerting pressure on the government to provide them with place to stay. The government already has the policy of granting land to erosion-affected people. Thus these people become 100% eligible for getting land. Forests which have been already cleared of trees by a nexus of contractors, timber smugglers, corrupt officers and politicians, are declared as denuded forests and soon the ‘erosion-affected’ people are given settlement there. This has been going on in Dhubri, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamrup, Morigaon etc for quite a long time.
Settlement of people in the char areas and on any space between the two embankments of the Brahmaputra has caused serious hindrance to the normal natural flow of the river. Increasing human interference has already caused huge problems for the Brahmaputra, the lifeline of the indigenous communities. As a result of all these the Brahmaputra is becoming increasingly unpredictable and uncontrollable.
The Guwahati High Court too has expressed its displeasure over the way the governments’ attitude in (mis)handling the problem created by infiltrators from Bangladesh. A series of judgements and orders passed especially by justice Biplab Kumar Sharma have reflected very poorly on the governments’ outlook and approach to this most important problem that India has been facing after independence.
I must admit, I do not have any great idea or strategy to tackle this problem. All that I can do is to focus on few areas in order to underline the gravity of the situation. There is no doubt that a grand design is currently on to realize the unfulfilled dream of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, all of whom have been well quoted in Lt. Gen S.K. Sinha’s report to the president of India in 1998.
NUMBER 1: While the Congress led governments at the Centre and the State accepted the Supreme Court’s striking down of the notorious IM (DT) Act with a lot of unexpressed but visible reluctance and embarrassment, there is still a very strong tendency- or rather an unwritten policy decision coupled with terrible stubbornness in the Congress led governments at the State and in the Centre to not to disturb the Bangladeshi infiltrators.
NUMBER 2: Those who are convinced and who strongly believe that Bangladeshi infiltration is a very serious problem that will one day or the other jeopardize the security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, do not have any action plans in their hands. These include the All Assam Students’ Union, Asom Jatiyabadi Yuva-Chatra Parishad, Asom Gana Parishad and Bharatiya Janata Party.
NUMBER 3: There exists two categories of people viz, (a) a huge chunk of population in India- and that includes Assam- who simply cannot comprehend how enormous the problem of influx is, and (b) a sizeable section of the population who pretend that influx of Bangladeshis is not a very big problem.
NUMBER 4: This is the most dangerous and thus the most noteworthy aspect. There is a systematic and well-drawn upon strategy to keep the issue of Bangladeshi influx out of focus of the common people. What is more interesting and appalling is that those groups and parties who believe that influx has been a common problem, also seem to lose focus. A section of intelligentsia in Assam, which, for some reason or the other was opposed to the movement against influx in 1979-85, has continued to influence public thinking and opinion. There is also one section of influential opinion builders who are constantly working towards making the common people believe that since the people of Bangladesh (and East Pakistan) origin have adopted the Assamese language, so let them stay here. It is like condoning rapist and a murderer because he has taken to singing the Ram dhoon! About the self-styled ‘secular’ and Left parties the less said the better. Read what Wasbir Hussain, a noted Guwahati based journalist wrote in September 2004 in a web portal called South Asia Terrorism Portal: ‘The population explosionof in Bangladesh, with 2.8 million added every year in one of the poorest and densely populated countries in the world, creates the push factors for this demographic invasion. These are, however, compounded by an expansionist political ideology, implicitly or explicitly supported in the corridors of power in Bangladesh: the idea of Lebensraum (‘living space’), which has been variously projected by the countries leadership for a long time, though the use of the expression itself is relatively recent.’
So, what next? May I quote from D.N Bezbaruah, former editor of The Sentined: ‘There is a clear move to establish a Islamic country in India’s North-east, and the project is moving forward relentlessly because of India’s weak response to such situations that pose a threat to the country’s security and integrity. What is worse is that Bangladesh has its eager collaborators within the country, even among former ministers. But the government of India has been able to do precious little to tackle even the collaborators of Bangladesh in India.’
When the Hindus of Kashmir felt insecure, they migrated to Delhi. Where will the indigenous people of Assam and Northeast go?
The government had agreed to implement the directives issued by the Supreme Court as part of its historic judgement of July 12, 2005 that scrapped the IM (DT) Act. But look at the kind of sincerity the Congress government headed by Tarun Gogoi has exhibited toward deporting or expelling the Bangladeshi infiltrators identified under the Foreigners’ Act and the IM (DT) Act.
As per the official figures tabled in the state assembly on January 12, 2009, out of the total 7,622 illegal migrants detected in the state between 2001 and October 2008 under the provisions of Foreigners’ Tribunal Act, only 61 were actually deported. Similarly out of the 2,643 illegal migrants detected between 2001and July 2005 under provisions of the Illegal Migrants (Detection by Tribunals) Act, 1983, only 54 were deported from the state.
What is also alarming is that a sizeable portion of people- this includes the Congress and the governments led by this party, the Left parties, a section of self-styled intelligentsia and secularists- refused to believe or accept the fact that there is a well-planned design to include Assam in a larger Islamic nation. Large scale influx from Bangladesh (and erstwhile East Pakistan) is definitely part of a larger design to create a greater Islamic country comprising of Bangladesh and the Indian states sharing boundaries with it.
Several top leaders of Pakistan and Bangladesh have made this intention clear in their speeches and writings and such leaders also include so-called ‘Friends of India’ like Julfiqar Ali Bhutto and Sheikh Muzibur Rehman. “One nearly as important as the Kashmir disputes that of Assam and some districts of India adjacent to East Pakistan. To these Pakistan has very good claims,” Bhutto had said in his book Myths of Pakistan. Mujibur Rehman on the other hand had said, “Because Eastern Pakistan must have sufficient land for its expansion and because abundant forests and mineral resources, Eastern Pakistan must include Assam.”
These statements of Bhutto and Rehman are also substantiated by the fact that the percentage of Muslims having roots/ origins in erstwhile East Pakistan and presently Bangladesh is on the increase in Assam. While Union Home minister Chidambaram expressed concern over the ongoing demographic changes in Assam, it is a fact that more districts in the state are becoming ‘minority-dominated’ (here ‘minority’ means Muslim) over the years.
Moreover, it is not just a demographic invasion from religious point of view. Migration and influx from erstwhile East Pakistan and present day Bangladesh has also impacted upon the linguistic status of Assam. The percentage of Assamese speaking people dropped increasingly while at the same time the percentage of Bengali speaking population increased profoundly.
NEW STATE SPONSORED POLICIES: THE ROAD AHEAD (THE NRC PROJECT)
National Register of Citizens, 1951 is a register prepared after the conduct of the Census of 1951 in respect of each village, showing the houses or holdings in a serial order and indicating against each house or holding the no. and names of person staying therein. These registers covered each and every person enumerated during the Census of 1951 and were kept in the offices of Deputy Commissioners and Sub-Divisional Officers according to instructions issued by the Govt. of India.
BACKGROUND: A National Register of Citizens was prepared in 1951 after the conduct of the census of that particular year. The Register included particulars of all the persons enumerated during that census. As per states Governing AIRC updation that are The Citizen Act, 1955 and the Citizenship Rules, 2003 dated 9th Nov 2009.
UPDATION: The NRC will be updated as per the provisions of the citizenship Act, 1955 and the citizenship (Registration of citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules 2003. As per the two statu...., the eligibility states would be ascertained based on the NRC, 1951. Electoral Rolls upto 1971 and in their absence the admissible documents upto 24 March, 1971. The updated NRC shall contain names of person eligible for inclusion in updated NRC by virtue of being orginal inhabitants of Assam.
IMPORTANCE: The NRC when updated shall become air important legal document to fall back upon for a citizen with reference to his/ her status of Indian Citizenship. Moreover as Assam has been facing the problem of illegal migrants from Bangladesh, it is important to identify them. It is therefore unipratine on the part of citizens of India in Assam to ensure inclusion of his/ her name in the updated NRC
· Persons whose names appear in NRC, 1951
· Persons whose names appear in the Electoral Rolls up to 24th March 1971
· Descendents of the above persons.
· Persons who came to Assam from Bangladesh between 1st January, 1966 and 25th March, 1971 and registered themselves with the Foreigner Regional Registration Office and declared by the Foreigner Tribunal as Indian Citizen.
· All Indian Citizens including their children and descendants who have moved to Assam post 24th March 1971 would be eligible for inclusion in the updated NRC on adducing satisfactory proof of residents in any part of the country as on 24th March, 1971.
· Persons who can provide any of the admissible documents issued up to 24th March, ................. 1971. This project is often seen as the reflection on the emergent crisis of identity which is taking its roots in the country (India) as well as in the states which share a very long international border like Assam, which shares the fifth largest international border. it is seen as the practical answer to many problems which have until now been held as insoluble.
THE ROAD AHEAD FUTURE OF SUCH IT INTEGRATED PROJECTS
IS IT POSSIBLE TO CREATE AMICABLE HARMONIOUS COMMUNITIES? A PARALLEL TO IMMIGRATION STORIES FROM FAR AND WIDE
1) the first being that the communities in question are not different in many ways so an amalgamation is always on the cards so it is possible to integrate them.
2) the second reflection is that since it is not possible not to give special regards to the indigenous population and thus they need markers of identity and such a project to make these markers of identity possible are in the offing.
3) the third crucial view is that one should radically try to push for policies to bar the entry of these immigrants to the mainland.
DRAWING THE CURTAINS: EXPLORING HOW TERRITORIAL POLITICS WORK AT A MICRO LEVEL
CARTOONSCAPE: ON A LIGHTER NOTE...
TO KEEP OR NOT TO KEEP?
Whether an immigrant is allowed to stay or is he deported back is an issue especially when stable immigration laws and policies are meager and hard to come by..
VOTING RIGHTS: ENOUGH OF A PARAPHERNALIA TO DECLARE ONE A CITIZEN?
In most cases as in the concerned case of the bangladeshi immigrants the voting rights and its implication in confereing a citizenship is adjudged.
USING A FENCE AS A KIND OF DEFENSE?