The Hon’ble Prime Minister has rightly described the unprecedented violence in Assam as a blot on the image of our nation. Such violence has no place in a civilized society. The fact that over four lakh people have been uprooted, over 100 persons have been killed and the social fabric of the society has been significantly damaged is a proof of the break down of the government’s machinery in the state of Assam. Our heart goes out to those who have lost their lives or suffered injuries or loss of property. It is extremely important that the relief and rehabilitation measures are strengthened so that all those who have suffered on account of this unprecedented situation can be helped out.
A change in demography affects the character of a region or a state. We, in India, have always had a tradition of protecting demography of sensitive regions. The hill states, the tribal regions are an example where demography is protected because the land, economy and the culture which are an inherent part of the social and cultural personality of these regions are protected. This fact was realized by some of the pre-Independence leaders of Assam. The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee in its 1945 Election manifesto stated:
“Unless the province of Assam is organized on the basis of Assamese language and Assamese culture, the survival of the Assamese nationality and culture will become impossible. The inclusion of Bengali speaking Silhoutte and Cachar and immigration or importation of lakhs of Bengali settlors on the of waste lands has been threatening the distinctive culture of Assam and caused many disorders.”
This position was on account of the strong conviction of late Mr Gopi Nath Bordoloi that the distinctive cultural and linguistic character of Assam has to be maintained.
Notwithstanding this initial conviction of the Congress party led by Mr Gopi Nath Bordoloi, the party changed its position in post Independent India. Two of its important Assam leaders who both became union ministers, advocated an alternative philosophy. This philosophy entailed a huge encouragement to illegal immigration from East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) so that the demographic character of Assam could be altered. This opportunistic policy in the pre 1971 era, ignored the concerns of national security, changes in the demography patterns and the making of serious in-roads into the strategic land link between Assam and the rest of the country.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who pledged a thousand year war against India in his book Myths of Independence wrote
“ It would be wrong that Kashmir is the only dispute that divides India and Pakistan, though undoubtedly the most significant. One at least is as nearly important as the Kashmir dispute is that of Assam and some districts of India adjacent to East Pakistan. To this Pakistan has very good claims.”
Even the more pro-India leaders like, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman in his book Eastern Pakistan –its population economics asserted:
“East Pakistan must have land for its expansion and because Assam has abundant forests, mineral resources, coal, petroleum etc. Eastern Pakistan must include Assam to be economically and financially strong.”
To capture the territory of India with its military might was not possible. Encroachment through immigration was thus the alternative strategy. There was a convergence of the vote bank interest of the Congress party and those in our neighbourhood. India was silently invaded by millions of immigrants.
The Congress party ‘s alternative strategy now was to make detection, identification and deportation impossible if not very difficult. In sharp contrast to the legal hurdles created, the world’s most liberal and authoritative author, Lord Dennings in his book The Due course of law has written an introduction to Part 5 titled ‘Entrances and Exits’. He states:
“In recent times, England has been invaded— not by enemies nor by friends but by those who seek England as a haven. In their own countries there are poverty, disease and no homes. In England there is social security — a National Health Service and a guaranteed housing for the asking without payment and without working for it. Once here each seeks to bring his relatives to join him. So they multiply exceedingly”.
The Conspiracy continues
The Foreigners Act was designed to check unauthorized entry of foreigners into India. The Act clearly provided that if a person is suspected of being a foreigner staying unauthorisedly in India, a notice would be issued to him and the onus would be on such person to justify that he is not a foreigner but a legitimate Indian citizen. In 1983, the IMDT Act was enacted only for Assam. It was an exception to the Foreigners Act. The rules of the game were changed. Instead of the onus of proof being on the alleged foreigner, it was now an onus on the state to prove that any citizen is foreigner before deporting him. Assam was the worst affected province on account of illegal immigration. Its demographic character was changed. The Assamese were suffering and yet the Congress Party conspired to make it a haven for foreigners.
The Supreme Court by its judgement dated 12/7/2005 struck down the IMDT Act as one which almost encouraged a silent invasion of India. The government was directed to identify and deport the foreigners on the basis of the Foreigners Act. Instead of allowing the procedure under the Foreigners Act to prevail, the government now changed the rules framed under the Foreigners Act. The rules were changed to introduce the same mischief which was available in the IMDT Act. The rules now placed the onus of proof in relation to an alleged foreigner in Assam to be on the state rather than the alleged foreigner for establishing his illegitimate stay. The Supreme Court by its judgement dated 5/12/2006 held this rule to be ultra vires of the Act. Notwithstanding this situation, the government continues to unabashedly look in the other direction.
Today, 676.47 km. of India-Bangladesh border remains unfenced. The population in most border districts of Assam is undergoing a significant change. 11 out of 27 districts are today a majority of persons living who are illegal immigrants. I am not referring to the ethnic minorities of Assam in this category. Districts like Dubri and Kokrajhar have been significantly affected. Dubri on the border of Bangladesh has over 70 percent illegal immigration affected. The official figures of 2011 Census have not been declared. This figure is expected to increase to beyond 80 percent. Do we not see security threat in this district? These are areas which are adjacent to the Chicken’s neck and therefore, constitute a serious threat to India’s security.
The government’s approach has been wholly disappointing. The government is treating this as a transient law and order problem. All government’s comments have been in that direction. The minister has to display a vision. The Congress party has to change its policy. It does not have to import illegal immigrants to increase its vote bank. The cost of this is being paid by the people of Assam and India. This crisis is not a law and order problem. It is not an Assamese problem. It is a direct and inequitable consequence of a structured and conspired demographic invasion of Assam. By merely bringing army for a few days or organizing relief camps you will not solve the problem. The government must stop this illegal immigration; the entire border must be fenced; the detection and deportation must begin forthwith.
Arun Jaitley is the Leader of Opposition (Rajya Sabha). These brief points were the basis of his speech while participating in the short duration discussion on recent incidents of communal violence in Assam
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