More than three decades of ethnic and communal strife, as well as multiple insurgencies, in Assam, have never seen a significant echo outside the Northeast, other than the occasional arrest of, or incident involving, a militant hiding out in some distant part of the country. Indeed, the violence of India's wider Northeast has remained almost hermetically sealed within the region since its beginnings in 1951, with the Naga insurrection.
Abruptly, a local— albeit sizeable— conflagration in the Bodoland Territorial Administrated Districts (BTAD) of Assam has found violent reverberations in Mumbai and Pune in Maharashtra, Ranchi in Jharkhand, as well as parts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. even as communal organizations from Delhi and other parts of the country send 'fact finding missions' into the affected areas in Assam, to conclude that a great conspiracy against the state's 'Muslim citizens' is afoot. The purported 'Muslim anger' over developments in the Bodo areas has congealed with apparent distress over the treatment and violent displacement of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. India's 'failure' to 'do enough' for the Rohingyas was one of the supposed triggers for the 'protest' in Mumbai and Ranchi, which culminated in pre-planned rioting on August 11, 2012.
Curiously, little notice has been taken here of Muslim-majority Bangladesh's inflexible position that Rohingya refugees would receive neither admission into nor shelter on, Bangladeshi soil. Indeed, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina rather curtly told British Secretary of International Development Affairs Andrew Mitchell in London, that 'countries including Britain, which are concerned over the Rohingya issue, should hold talks with Myanmar instead of putting pressure on Bangladesh.' If the Indian leadership was susceptible to learning anything, it would see a strong lesson here.
Unfortunately, leaderships and administrators in this country remain tenaciously uneducable. Far from seeing the intentional mischief in the present troubles, they have sought to impose a pall of confusion over the most basic issues, claiming that the violence in the Bodo areas has no relationship to the long unresolved, and implicitly encouraged, problem of illegal Bangladeshi migrants. Thus, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi baldly claimed, on July 27, 2012, "There are no Bangladeshis in the clash but Indian citizens."
Successive administrations in Assam have refused to address, and indeed, have sought vigorously to cover up, the issue of illegal Bangladeshi migration that has destabilized the state and the wider Northeast for decades now. The general pretext has been that no authoritative estimate of illegal migrant populations is available, but this begs the question, since it is the administration that is required to produce such an estimate, and has defaulted persistently on this duty. Indeed, even the Supreme Court's goading on this issue has fallen largely on deaf ears, or has met with fitful efforts at 'compliance', quickly abandoned at the first signs of predictable resistance.
On July 12, 2005, the Supreme Court of India noted that Assam was facing "external aggression and internal disturbance" on account of the large-scale illegal influx of Bangladeshi migrants, and that it was "the duty of the union of India to take all measures for protection of the state of Assam from such external aggression and internal disturbance as enjoined in Article 355 of the Constitution."
In 2005, the centre decided to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) 'within two years', on the basis of the 1971 rolls. The exercise failed to take off. On April 22, 2009, during tripartite discussions between the central and state governments, and the All Assam Students Union (AASU), the government promised to initiate NRC updates in two revenue circles, Chaygaon in Kamrup district and Barpeta revenue circle in Barpeta district. The process commenced on June 7, 2010, as a pilot project, but almost immediately ran into trouble, with 'law and order problems' surfacing in Barpeta. On July 21, 2010, protestors under the banner of the Barpeta district unit of the All Assam Muslim Students Union (AAMSU), demonstrated violently outside the deputy commissioner's Office, demanding a halt to the process. Police eventually opened fire, killing four and injuring 50. While no official suspension was announced, the 'pilot project' stood abandoned from this point on.
On March 26, 2012, the government announced the 'decision' to re-launch the Registrar General of Citizens' Registration pilot project to update the NRC in three phases from July 1, 2012. AAMSU, with 24 other 'minority organizations' objected to the decision. The process has not begun till date.
Over the intervening years, governments, both at the centre and in the state have done much to muddy the waters. The most perverse initiative was the introduction of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act of 1983 (IMDT Act), ostensibly intended to 'facilitate' the quick detection and expulsion of illegal migrants, but, in fact, designed to disable the far more effective provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946, which continue to apply to the rest of the country. With action initiated only on the basis of a complaint, not suo moto by state agencies, and the onus of proof shifted from the accused to the complainant, the IMDT made it nigh impossible to identify and expel any significant number of illegal migrants. The Supreme Court thus noted, in 2005, that though enquiries were initiated in 310,759 cases under the IMDT Act, only 10,015 persons were declared illegal migrants, and even among these, just 1,481 illegal migrants had been expelled in the duration of the Act, till April 30, 2000. On the contrary, it was noted, that West Bengal, where the Foreigners Act was applicable, and which also faced a major problem of illegal migration from Bangladesh, 489,046 persons had been deported between 1983 and November 1998, a significantly lesser period. The IMDT Act, the Court observed, "is coming to the advantage of such illegal migrants as any proceeding initiated against them almost entirely ends in their favour, (and) enables them to have a document having official sanctity to the effect that they are not illegal migrants."
In September 2000, the Supreme Court had directed the union government to repeal the IMDT Act by January 2001. The then Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the centre failed to comply, claiming it did not have the requisite numbers in the upper house. Unsurprisingly, the present Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government failed to initiate any process to implement the Supreme Court's standing orders, till the court struck down the IMDT Act in its order of July 12, 2005. Nevertheless, the Congress continues to contest every move seeking any change to the status quo that it has engineered on illegal immigrants in Assam, on its own cynical electoral calculus.
In the interim, efforts to 'regularize' illegal migrant populations and entrench their 'rights' in what should be protected tribal areas, on the basis of opportunistic arrangements with militant formations seeking accommodation with the state, have continued through the disastrous Assam Accord of 1985 and, more significantly in the present context, the Bodo Accord of 2003. Under the latter accord, the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, intended to protect the special rights of vulnerable Tribal populations, was amended to guarantee the land rights of 'all communities' living in the BTAD. It is this unprincipled and opportunistic legislation that is being used by Muslim communalists within and outside Assam to claim that all Muslims in the BTAD are Indian citizens with constitutional protection to the lands they have acquired.
Through all this, the sheer enormity of the demographic reengineering in the region has been entirely ignored. Since no government has committed itself to a detailed enumeration of citizens or of illegal migrants, there are, of course, no 'official' estimates of the actual illegal migrant population in Assam. Nevertheless, authoritative estimates have periodically come into the open source from official quarters.
In 2005, then Assam Governor Lt. Gen. Ajai Singh, in a report to the union ministry of home affairs (MHA), leaked to the Press, had claimed that "upto 6,000" Bangladeshis enter Assam every day. The statement was subsequently modified under pressure from the Congress to claim that the number applied to Bangladeshis entering India, not Assam alone. A 2001 MHA estimate claimed that "150 to 170 lakh (15 to 17 million) Bangladeshi infiltrators have crossed into India illegally since 1971." Again, on July 14, 2004, the then union minister of state for home, Shriprakash Jaiswal, conceded in Parliament that, out of 12,053,950 illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators all over India, 5,000,000 were present in Assam alone."
Census figures also provide significant indices for the scale of infiltration. The Provisional Census 2011 indicated that Assam's population, at 31,169,272, had registered an increase of 4,513,744 over the preceding decade. Of the state's 27 districts, Dhubri, bordering Bangladesh, had recorded the highest growth, at 24.4 percent. The decadal growth rate for Assam, at 16.93 per cent, was lower than the overall national growth, at 17.64 per cent. Details of trends in various population groupings under the Census 2011 are yet to be released.
2011 Census data clearly suggests that the scale of infiltration has declined. Between 1971 and 1991, the Muslim population in Assam grew by 77.42 per cent as against 41.89 per cent for Hindus. Between 1991 and 2001, again, the corresponding figures were 29.3 per cent for Muslims and 14.95 per cent for Hindus. The result was that, currently, of 27 districts in Assam, at least six have 60 per cent Muslim population, while another six have over 40 per cent Muslims. And of the 126 Assembly seats, 54 Members of Legislative Assembly are dependent on Muslim 'vote banks'.
There are numerous troubles between a multiplicity of communities in Assam, and the Indian leadership and administration has failed to keep pace with contemporary trends, with the growth of populations, and with the transformation, opportunities and challenges of new technologies and processes. At base, every administration has to be anchored in principles of justice, efficiency and honesty. If this is the case, law and order automatically falls into place. When there is occasional trouble, people turn to the authorities and not to radical and armed extremist formations.
Unfortunately, the integrity of administrations has been comprehensively compromised across India, and more so in the states of the Northeast. The communalization of politics, a trend that commenced well before Partition, has progressed through the decades of Independence, even under and within purportedly 'secular' parties. The external environment has also been radicalized, with a jihadi ideology now entrenched in Pakistan finding reverberations across the world, and, at least in some measure, in India as well. It is significant, in this context, to note that, Lafikul Islam, the 'publicity secretary' of the All Bodoland Muslim Student's Union (ABMSU), had warned the state government on July 7, 2012, that, if the 'culprits' of the violence of July 6, 2012, were not arrested within 24 hours and the atrocities against the minorities did not end, ABMSU would declare jehad and take up arms. Within the current international milieu, such sentiments are sure to find their echoes among the Islamist lunatic fringe— and its mirrors in other communities— pushing India into a widening conflagration.
India's administrators, enforcement and intelligence officials cannot, within the current global context, continue to remain as ignorant as they evidently are, both of local trends within their jurisdictions, and of international trends impinging on perceptions and motivations of local populations. There is evidence that the current cycle of violence was at least partially linked to Bodo-Muslim competition to encroach on forest land, in the latter case, for the construction of an Idgah in the Bedlangmari area in Kokrajhar. However minor such an incident may appear to be on the surface, no competent administrator or intelligence operative could possibly ignore its potential for mischief— and yet, this is precisely what happened. Vast areas of forest and public land in Assam are being progressively encroached upon, with full connivance of the administration, and this cannot continue without consequences.
Law and order in India can no longer be maintained without understanding the subtle trends in violence all over the world. Terrorism and insurgency are no doubt significant patterns that will demand our attention, but there are other patterns of low-grade violence— such as the rioting in the Bodo areas— which will challenge the state progressively, especially, where terrorist and insurgent movements begin to fail. Unless administrators, police leaders and intelligence operatives are sensitive to past trends, social contexts, and international developments, they will continue to fail to respond effectively. There is tremendous need, today, to enlarge the training programmes for the superior services, whose officers are being found wanting in crises with increasing frequency.
Above all, the corrupt politics of vote banks and crass electoral calculi, to the manifest detriment of the national interest, must be defeated. India's diversity can only be held together by the unity of law and of justice, not by the unprincipled horse-trading that governs politics today.
Courtesy: the South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) of the South Asia Terrorism Portal. K.P.S. Gill is Publisher, SAIR; President, Institute for Co. K.P.S. Gill is Publisher, SAIR; President, Institute for Conflict Management.
If one is nor branded a Sanghi, Bajrangi or whatever by one masquerading as "secular" it would be quite pertinent to state quite categorically and rather bluntly that today's Congress which proudly claims to be the real Indian National Congress of Gokhale, Naoroii, Bannerjee and Tilak, that won the freedom of India, is the first and foremost political party that unashamedly and blatantly have used the Muslim vote bank to keep itself in power.
Right from the very start of an independent India the Congress has played this duplicitous game. Pre-1947 it provocatively and persistently rejected Leagues' leadership of the majority of Indian Muslims and while claiming to represent all Indians it consistently used Hindu religious invocations - Gandhi's "Raghupati Raghav Rajaram ... " chant - it refused to form coaltions with League in the 8 provinces of British India where it has majoiry votes except Punjab and Bengal leaving Jinnah no option but to keep howling for Pakistan.
Having thus being equally responsible for partitioning the country and the largest bloody migration of people in human history, the Congress under Nehru and his "socilaist" coterie then for electoral gains deliberately sought to exploit on fears of Muslims who remained in India and has continued on this policy even to the extent of appeasing Islamic fundamentalists. In Assam, it deliberately allowed the illegal migrants from Bangladesh (majority Muslims) to settle down over the years as they voted for it to stay in power forever.
Assam is imploding and becoming explosive and so is India. Who are these people terrorising the NE workers in Bangalore and else where using electronic social media and what are their motives ?
Shri Pradhan Mantri ji, Dr. MMS please wake up. Mere speeches by you and your HM Shinde won't do. Don't let yourself go down in history as India's worst PM ...
The riots in Mumbai and Pune rumours in Bangalore and silence on all this by Congress (S) reminds me of the days of "Khilafat" when Congress under the leadership of a non Congressi had supported the movement. Can any Congressi tell me what do we have to do with the problem of Rohingya Muslims. Even Bangladesh have not bothered about them. Bangladesh are not bothering about illegal Bangaladeshi in India also.
Clearly ISI is taking advantage of internal issues in India - we need cool heads and less politically predatory rhetoric on all sides.
IMHO KPS Gill should be sent to Assam to sort this vexed issue out - he was a great presence for good in Gujarat after the violence there, his credibility is above reproach and he is certainly tough enough.
Come on Sonia-ji. Gill Sahib bhejiye, un sabh ko sudhar denge.
Those in doubt about the DEMOGRAPHIC INVATION can visit Silchar, obtain the ELECTORAL ROLL and CENSUS DATA of 1981 from the District Headquarters about the villages on the 40 Km SILCHAR- MIZORAM Road which will clearly give out the NAME of 8-9 villages either of Assamese/ Bishnupriya Hindus , population in each villages and the list of people eligible to vote. Now try to identify these villages on the 40 Km road from Silchar till it enters Mizoram. It is not possible as presently there is a non-stop 40 Km stretch of BANGLADESHI MUSLIM VILLAGES on this road. Remember, CACHAR District of Assam with SILCHAR as District Headqurter has a common border with Bangladesh like Dubri District near W Bengal border. --------------------------------------- Most interestingly, the BANGLADESHI MUSLIMS villages stop just as you enter MIZORAM- seldom will you find a BANGLADESHI MUSLIM in the "first MIZO village" on this Sichar- Aizwal NH- VAIRENGTE, as the constitution of India prohibits non-tribals from owning land in MIZORAM and so any BANGLADESHI MUSLIMS found are chased out by MIZOS. The BODOS are also tribals as old as MIZOS, plain TRIBES of ASSAM and so why cannot BODOS have the same right over their land like the MIZOS, NAGAS etc. The only difference is that BODOS are mostly HINDUS who accept and are happy to be Indians while NAGAS & MIZOS have fully converted to Christianity and have/ had fought Indian Govt demanding that they be given a country independent of India.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT