igrating population from one country to another is a global problem. Not only India but some developed countries like the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada are facing the heat of migration, particularly from Asian countries. Australia is one country that readily accommodates migrants. But even in Australia, there is concern over the rising graph of the population that is creating problems on roads and sea beaches where one has to buy tickets to go to a beach. Roads are getting overcrowded by rising number of cars. Sooner than later, the UK is going to bring legislation to curb immigrants, particularly from South Asian nations.
In India, our story is slightly different. Our population growth is already high, 17.19 per cent in a decade according to the last Census of 2011. At more than 125 crores of the population, our resources are overstretched; infrastructures are bursting to the seams. There are water shortage and fewer works for hands. The trains and roads are overcrowded. While there is an urgent need of curbing our growth rate of population, the influx of illegal migrants from bordering countries like Bangladesh is adding to our problem.
One reason why people from Bangladesh come to India is to earn a livelihood. It is for earning that the people of Bangladesh or for that matter from Pakistan enter India because of laxity in guarding the borders and also to some extent the corrupt official machinery. The presence of a large number of illegal immigrants is not confined to West Bengal and Assam but it is there right in the national capital Delhi and in many other parts of the country. The migrant population from across the border is not only eating into menials, semi-skilled and skilled jobs depriving the Indian citizens of livelihood but it is also creating law and order problem. When the illegal immigrants fail to get work they resort to crime.
Ever since the birth of Bangladesh in 1971, there has been a continuous influx of Bangladeshis into India from our Eastern Border. The illegal immigrants pose a serious threat. Assam is worst hit.
The Supreme Court of India, in 2005 made the following ruling on illegal immigration:
“The apex court held the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act (IMDT) as unconstitutional while, with reference to the Sinha Report, maintained that the impact of the “aggression” represented by large-scale illegal migration from Bangladesh had made the life of the people of Assam especially one of seven sister which is Tripura the land of tiprasa “wholly insecure and the panic generated thereby had created fear psychosis” in other north-eastern States.
In August 2008, the Delhi High Court dismissed a petition by a Bangladeshi national against her deportation. The High Court ruled that the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants “pose a danger to India’s internal security”.
Many social scientists have expressed concern over illegal immigration of Bangladeshi in Assam. According to a research paper published a few years ago, “Illegal migration into Assam from Bangladesh has been posing a serious security threat to the identity of Assamese people. It adversely affects the social, economic and political environment of Assam, creating law and order problems where immigrants are present in large number. The flow of immigrants started during the rule of British and continued tills today due to the pull and push factors. The deportation of illegal migrants become difficult due to the lack of strong law and political will, as illegal migrants are used as a vote bank by different political parties. The data provided in the study indicates that if necessary steps are not taken immediately, Assam, the elder sister of North-East India would lose its identity from the map of India very soon. The illegal migration is one of the major reasons for social and ethnic violence in Assam. Therefore it is high time that India takes stringent measures against the illegal migrants who have become a real threat to the security of the country”.
The research paper says, “Post independent period during 1951-2011 the population growth of the state of Assam was 288.21 per cent against 235.15 per cent for all India. This high growth rate of the population apparently suggests large-scale migration to the state of Assam.
Illegal migration has generated a host of destabilizing political, social, economic, ethnic and communal tensions. Politically, the Bangladeshi migrants are in a position to influence the results of the elections in a large number of constituencies in the North East (about 32 per cent of the constituencies in Assam). Economically, increased pressure on land, resulting in depletion of forest wealth, undercutting of wages of unskilled jobs, forcible occupation of Government land by the migrants and a host of other such issues, generate a ripple effect in the entire North East.
There is a tendency to view illegal migration into Assam as a regional matter, affecting only the people of Assam. Its more dangerous dimension of greatly undermining our national security is ignored. The long cherished design of Greater East Pakistan/Bangladesh, making inroads into the strategic land link of Assam with the rest of the country, can lead to severing the entire land mass of the North East, with all its rich resources, from the rest of the country. This will have disastrous strategic and economic consequences”.
I would like the Opposition leaders and the Opposition parties to go through various documents and research papers before creating a storm over National Register of Citizens in Assam.
(The writer is a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha)
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