round 40 lakh people, those who are illegal migrants in Assam, have been left out of a draft list of citizens; they are bound to face deportation if they cannot prove their citizenship. The state’s National Register of Citizens or NRC has been updated for the first time since 1951 to account for illegal migration from neighbouring Bangladesh. Releasing the updated list, officials highlighted that no one would be deported or arrested, as this is only a draft. The recount is seen by the critics as a move to target Assam’s Muslim population on the pretext of weeding out Bangladeshi migrants. This was just a draft and not the final list.
India’s geostrategic location, its relatively sound economic position vis-à-vis its neighbours, and its liberal democratic credentials have long made it a magnet for people in other parts of the region who are fleeing persecution in their countries of origin or looking for a better life. Refugees from Tibet, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have found shelter in India. While refugees coming from other areas — including Tibet, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Myanmar — have been dealt with somewhat systematic, although an ad hoc manner, the influx of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh has largely been left unattended. Most of the illegal migrants from Bangladesh are Muslims and are of the criminal mindset. They are a burden on the Indian economy.
Political parties have made Hindus and it’s co-sects as second citizens out of their constant hunger to appease Muslims. Even after facing a severe backlash from voters all over, they did not correct and see what price political parties are continuing to pay. It’s always said, “Take care of your own first, before others”. BJP and its allies have done a yeomen service to native Assamese. British, known for their governance and cunningness, did the right thing to create Hindu India and Pakistan for Muslims and cunningly created east and west of India. So, getting at least these 40 lakhs illegal immigrants should only be a beginning, as otherwise, by in the next 40 years, native Indians will become “minorities” in Assam and another 4/5 generations later, Hindustan, will become the Islamic Republic of India. The problem of detection, dispersal and even deportation of infiltrators would not be formidable one if the Centre and the state governments tackled it with zeal and imagination in time. The issue of illegal immigrants in the state of Assam is a seemingly intractable problem which, unresolved, would imperil the local communities identity and culture.
The most disturbing development in the 20th century Assam has been that of the spike in the population arising out of the influx of migrants. This inflow was prevalent, right from the Colonial Era. Those days’ labourers from Odisha or Jharkhand were brought in as workers in tea plantations. Likewise, arrived the Marwaris or merchants of Rajasthan who have a monopoly over trade, both wholesale and retail. These migrants came in and occupied tracks of land for settlement. However, these migrants, despite being considered ‘outsiders’, did not pose a threat to the Assamese sense of identity and economic independence. The numbers were small and they lived generally within the confines of their own community. But in the recent past, the number of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants has seen a steady rise over the years. The overgrown population became a threat to different states especially Assam. It’s high time that government should act strictly and deport them to their motherland. The availability of cheap labour from Bangladesh has resulted in this rise of illegal migrants infiltrating into the every metro city of India including Mumbai. These migrants take advantage of improper fencing at the border. The illegal migrants take shelter in slums. To prove their citizenship the immigrants often procure certificates declaring them as Indians, from sarpanch (village heads) of local villages. These Bangladeshi immigrants often pass off as Indians by claiming that they belong to parts of West Bengal (WB). Efforts to prevent their ingress into the city or to deport them have not been very successful. Out of the 1448 held in Mumbai this year, about 250 were deported. The trials in these cases usually go on for a couple of years. Once they are bailed, they go back to their jobs in the city. There is no direction given to them to return or get deported. Poverty drives these immigrants to come to the city along with their families in search of livelihood. However, they also cooperate with police investigations. They stay in slum pockets and keep themselves involved in doing petty jobs.
In the early 1940s, a large number of migrant labourers of Muslim origin were brought in from the erstwhile East Pakistan towards implementation of the ‘Grow More Food Campaign’ of the government. The issue of rehabilitation remained unresolved. It was in the wake of the liberation of Bangladesh that several lakhs of refugees came to North-East India. These ‘outsiders’, had come in search of a living, from their impoverished land. But, they were seen as encroachers on scarce resources like land and potential competitors to employment opportunities and political power. This perception has now become a reality and more often than not in an insidious way through the machinations of the politicians who are hell bent on securing electoral votes. The problem of immigration persisted and grew larger with time. This issue has even taken political and sometimes violent forms in many states of the North-East. This neglect has adversely impacted the interests of local populations in the areas seeing large-scale influxes of illegal immigrants as well as India’s national security interests. Further, the absence of national refugee laws has blurred the distinction between refugees and economic migrants, leading to the denial of any assistance to even genuine asylum seekers. It now poses an enormous problem for India and the millions of affected people. Further delay in addressing the problem will only make matters worse.
(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected])