Bangladeshi Infiltration Issue- Digging the Reality Out of the Myths

Written by: Pathikrit

Even as the issue of Bangladeshi illegal immigrants as well as the recent massacre in Kokrajhar district refuse to die down, let us take a brief look at some of the similar incidents of conflicts between locals and illegal immigrants happening in some other parts of the world.

Bangladesh is ruthless with illegal immigrants entering into Bangladesh from Myanmar

In fact one would not have to go too far and can witness something similar happening right in the neighbouring Bangladesh where the Bangladeshi authorities have clamped down severely on the influx of thousands of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar who have been evicted from Myanmar.

In fact Bangladesh is so concerned about the constant inflow of boat-full of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar that its parliament recently debated a proposal for implementing birth control measures on the Rohingyas refuges settled in Bangladesh who allegedly were producing more children for the purpose of securing more rations since each new born is entitled to 12 kg of rice per month as UN ration and thus it has been incentivising the Rohingyas to produce more children.

The Bangladeshi authorities did not just stop there but even asked several aid programme organisations to stop their charity work of disbursing relief materials to Rohingyas in Bangladesh since it was pulling more number of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar into Bangladesh.

And here is what Saudi Arab did with Illegal Immigrants

In the same league, Saudi Arab, under its Nitaqat policy for providing more jobs to locals, has been deporting huge number of illegal immigrants who have been residing and working in Saudi Arab. UK based The Guardian reported that till January 2014, Saudi Arab, under a ferocious crackdown, deported more than 250,000 foreign migrant workers which among others included around 1,40,000 Ethiopians and several thousand Indians as well.

And sadly, this is how India pampers illegal immigrants.....

Therefore the issue of illegal immigrants entering another country for some or the other reason is nothing new. It has been going on for several decades now but in case of India the issue gets all the more complicated due to the fact that various political parties over the years have deliberately tried to legitimise the illegal entry of millions through giving them voter card and ration card.

Probably nowhere else the case of illegal immigrants being used as a vote bank with considerable impact on the election, has happened as it has happened in India. The situation has come to such a naught today that even if efforts are made to hide the issue under the carpet, it would not vanish into thin air, primarily because today in several districts of Assam and in certain districts of Bengal, incessant and unabated entry of Bangladeshis have made the indigenous population minority in their own land.

Even though the issue of locals feeling overwhelmed and threatened by the burgeoning population of immigrants may be more in Assam than in West Bengal , fact of the matter remains that under no circumstances can the animosity or conflicts be termed as communal.

The Unnecessary Communalisation of Conflict

In the recent case of the massacre of 32 alleged Bangladesh Muslim migrants by suspected NDFB militants, a sinister campaign could be witnessed wherein it was termed as a Hindu Muslim divide. In the first place it is not at all a Hindu-Muslim violence but rather a conflict between locals and illegal immigrants.

In fact, the organisation suspected to be behind the carnage, i.e factions of National Democratic Front of Bodoland or NDFB had been responsible in the past for killing of Hindi speaking people. In the year 2010 alone, there have been several incidents where NDFB attacked and killed Hindi speaking people in Assam, the biggest among those attacks being in November 2010 when 18 people were gunned down, most of whom were Hindi speaking people.

NDFB was also involved in the October 2008 serial blast in Assam in which more than 70 people were killed and around 470 were seriously injured. Incidentally, in this case too, the prime target was the Hindi speaking migrant workers in Assam.

Moreover, the Christian domination in the NDFB factions [Read here] is an issue that cannot be ignored. Therefore the question of a Hindu-Muslim angel to the clashes is bizarre.

Nevertheless, this cannot discount the issue of massive infiltration by Bangladeshis since 1970's because of which the Assam Agitation was started, Today in many of the districts of Assam, illegal Bangladeshis, most of whom are Bengali speaking Muslims, are majority in population while the local tribals have become minority and this has created a sense of insecurity and betrayal towards India.

The Real Issue- Can India continue to allow millions of Bangladeshis enter India every year?

The issue that Narendra Modi raked up and which is being given a communal angle by several of those political parties who have benefitted immensely from such illegal infiltration is a very serious issue which should be beyond communalism and should be looked upon as an issue of nothing less that ‘ Silent Invasion' by Bangladesh into India.

In fact, in 2005, the then Governor of Assam Lt Gen (Retd) Ajai Singh in a letter to the Home Ministry had stated that around 6,000 Bangladeshis enter Assam every day. In the same year, a Supreme Court judgement on the issue of illegal immigration in Assam had stated that the state was facing ‘external aggression' due to massive influx of Bangladeshis.

Bangladesh is doing what Pakistan could not - silently invading India

Yet, the shocking thing is that, instead of stopping the unabated entry of Bangladeshis inside India, UPA Government literally institutionalised the infiltration by prohibiting BSF from shooting at infiltrators and intruders. [Read here]. This has not only encouraged more number of illegal Bangladeshis to enter India but has often created situations where illegal cattle smugglers to Bangladesh have brutally beaten up BSF jawans because they knew that the BSF jawans have been prohibited from shooting back in return [Read here]

Assamese speaking Muslims have never had a history of conflict with indigenous people of Assam. The issue is with Bangladeshis

However it is to be kept in mind that there is a huge difference between the Assamese speaking Muslim Population and the Bengali speaking Bangladeshi Muslims who have illegally migrated in millions over the last several years. Wasbir Hussain, an Associate Fellow with the Institute For Conflict Management wrote in 2004 in an article titled Assam: Demographic Jitters, published in South Asia Intelligence Review. [Read here]

‘The State has long been in the grip of a murky politics of citizenship over the issue of unabated illegal migration from adjoining Bangladesh, with which it shares a 262 kilometre long border. The particular significance of the recently released Census data (2001) is the fact that the rates of growth of Muslim populations are the highest precisely in the districts that share a border with, or lie close to the border with, Bangladesh - particularly Dhubri, Barpeta, Karimganj and Hailakandi - giving credence to the widely held belief that illegal migration from Bangladesh was the source of these demographic trends. Such migration clearly continues unhindered, despite the barbed-wire fence being erected in stretches and the presence of the Border Security Force (BSF) along the border.

He further states, "There is need to make a clear distinction, here, between indigenous Assamese-speaking Muslims and Bangladeshi migrants before analyzing the demographic and security implications of such population growth. Aside from Guwahati, Assam's capital (that is part of the Kamrup Metro district), the heartland of the indigenous Assamese Muslims - whose origins can be traced to the forays of the pre-Mughals in the 13th century - is located around the tea growing eastern districts of Jorhat, Golaghat, Sivasagar and Dibrugarh' and that, ‘Muslim growth rate in areas dominated by indigenous Assamese-speaking Muslims, located far from the Bangladesh border, have been registering marginal increases, as compared to areas located close to the border."

Bangladesh is doing what Pakistan could not- Silently invading India.

So here is a country named Bangladesh which initially fought for partition and from East Bengal it became East Pakistan and then fought against Pakistan to become an independent country with India's help and since then have become the biggest exporter of population to India to the extent that massive demographic transition is taking place in several parts of India.

Bangladesh may have its own problems in not being able to provide opportunities to its own people but should India be held responsible and accountable for that? India with its 123 crore people have its own bagful of issues to take care of, including issues of natural calamities, droughts, malnutrition and challenges of creating educational and employment opportunities for hundreds of millions of its people every year. Taking care of Bangladesh's population is the responsibility of Bangladesh and not that of India's. The near 5 crore illegal Bangladeshis staying in India has no business being in India.

A malicious propaganda has nevertheless started that the objective is to stamp every Bengali speaking Muslim as Bangladeshi which is blatantly false and sinister in its objective. The issue is clearly about those who entered and started residing in Bengal after 1971 and in Assam after 1985. The Assam Accord of 1985 is a well defined document to deal with the issue of illegal immigrations in Assam.

Therefore unless India comes up with a National Immigration Policy and create clear cut laws which would make sure that India does not become a happy nesting ground for Bangladeshis, unless India make sure that illegal Bangladeshis are prevented from voting in India elections, worse days are waiting for India. India is for Indians, be it Hindu, Muslim or Sikhs or Chrisitans or from any other religion. But it is certainly not for illegal Bangladeshis who have been the pampered lot just for the sake of vote bank politics.

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