On Saturday, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh who also represents Assam in the Rajya Sabha along with Congress President Sonia Gandhi made a belated visit to the violence-affected areas of the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD) in a bid to provide ritualistic and symbolic ‘relief balm’ to the affected people. During his visit Dr Singh announced an assistance of Rs 2 lakh from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund to the family of those who lost lives in the violence and an amount of Rs 50,000 as immediate relief to those who are seriously injured. In addition, Dr Singh announced giving an assistance of Rs 30,000 to those whose houses are fully damaged and Rs 20,000 to those whose houses have been partially damaged. A similar belated visit was also undertaken by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, accompanied by some Congress heavyweights along with higher officials of the Home Ministry to as they say ‘take stock of the situation.’ It needs mention that similar visits have been undertaken to Kokrajhar by several political parties in the last few days.
Such routine visits, just for the sake of formality, by various political parties in the aftermath of such incidents and the declaration of relief packages as the one in question are not something new. There have been umpteen instances when post such violent conflagration or a natural calamity, funds have been doled out only to enter into the coffers of unscrupulous politicians, bureaucrats and contractors without reaching the victims. In the past too, on several occasions such instances have occurred and poor people have been displaced from their home bereft of their belonging only to languish hopelessly in camps with hitherto no signs of rehabilitation. Such visits are nothing but a mere symbolic sham to gain political mileage with nothing for the poor and deprive people the reason to rejoice and celebrate.
The Sentinel, without even remotely trying to suggest that such funds during moments of crisis is totally unwarranted, thinks that such piecemeal solution will serve no purpose if one is really serious to evolve a long-term and plausible solution to such problems. The need is to delve deep and identify the root cause behind its genesis and then evolve a feasible roadmap. Mere denials with allegations and counter allegation coupled with such visits will not be of any help.
In this entire episode, two versions have emerged. The Government version that would like to have us believe that “the violence has been orchestrated by our people and not by Bangladeshi nationals.” Government officials have even went to the extent of saying that the border with Bangladesh is completely ‘sealed’ and it is ‘impossible’ for anyone to enter. The other version tells us that violence has been perpetrated by illegal immigrants from Bangladesh with Bangladesh-based anti-India forces supplying arms and ammunition.
In the first place, if we go by the Government’s version and believe that this is a case of ethnic fratricide between Bodos and non-Bodos arising from the identity crisis because several villages having non-Bodos as the majority community were clubbed with in BTAD area leaving them less derived of their opportunity for deprivation, we would like to know from the Government as to what steps would it take in the aftermath of such violence and bloodbath that all the people living there coexist peacefully and that such incidents do not reoccur. Here again even if we accept the government’s version surely mere rehabilitation or relief packages will not serve the purpose for there can erupt such violence again unless people living in an area irrespective of its population percentage gets adequate opportunity for sufficient representation. We, however, have some serious reservations regarding the government’s versions regarding the incident and would like to take the comment that India’s border with Bangladesh is ‘completely sealed’ with a pinch of salt. We also cannot agree to the argument that the Government has ‘no evidence’ on the ‘involvement of Bangladeshi nationals’ in the incident.
Our argument stems from the fact that over the years hordes of illegal immigrants have been entering Assam changing the demographic profile of the State making Muslims the majority community in several districts of Assam. This abnormal growth is, of course, not due to the indigenous Assamese Muslims but because of the prevalence of polygamy among the illegal immigrants from East Bengal/East Pakistan ancestry. We disqualify the argument of the Government because in the past we have witnessed the Congress regime taking a pro-Bangladeshi stand by enacting notorious laws like the now-scrapped IM (DT) Act that had done incalculable harm by providing a shield to the detection and deportation of illegal immigrants. We have also seen how the Bangladeshis even after being detected were made to perform the vanishing act only to bolster their (Congress’) electoral interests. We have also seen the lackadaisical and indifferent attitude of the Government in updating the NRC.
Be that as it may, the fact that cannot be glossed over is that whenever such incidents occur, it is the innocent civilians who are the worst victims. Politicians and bureaucrats who make aerial visits or in air-conditioned cars are totally unaware of the pain and misery being suffered in the relief camps. The other facet is even more dangerous. That such incident is just a reflection of the fact that illegal immigrants are becoming a majority community and trying to outdo the indigenous sons of the soil. Is it not suggesting that, as we said the other day in our front page viewpoint “The Alien Factor”, some ‘alien’ forces are in a bid to ouster the natives? Is the Government introduced to this grim reality or its dangerous consequences? Or it is merrily overlooking the entire thing only because any step taken to detect and deport the illegal immigrants would— for a government that has no development plank to show and survives on the Bangladeshi vote-bank— run against their electoral equations. It is time for the Government to display some sort of sincerity in updating the NRC and make a concerted effort towards detection and deportation of illegal immigrants. It is high time the political parties thought beyond their myopic political ambitions.