Since the independence of India the question of illegal immigration in Assam has remained a burning issue. But, it is really unfortunate that the serious issue of illegal migration from Bangladesh to Assam has never figured prominently in the scheme of things of successive governments. Rather, the governments both at the centre and in the state have been spreading the red carpet exclusively for them. The Assam-Bangladesh border has been inadequately guarded over the decades allowing Bangladeshis to enter the State and settle down as citizens of India as they have easy access to citizenship-proof documents. The infiltrators detected through the judicial process were never sent back. The recent ethnic violence in the BTAD since July 20 is due to the sheer negligence of the government to check illegal immigration.
The provisional 2011 Census report for the state released in March 2011 had stated Assam’s population is now 3,11,69,272 (3.12 Crore)registering an increase of 45,13,744 in the last 10 years. The population growth in the state during 1991-2001 was 18.92 per cent, according to the report. The 2001-11 decadal increase has been 16.93 per cent. 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.
Against the all- India average Growth Rate of 17.64 % and Assam’s Growth Rate of 16.93 %, it is interesting to examine the District-wise Growth Rate in Assam, which gives a clear idea of the increased population in a number of Districts, which have become Muslim- majority due to both immigration as well as the wide-spread practice of polygamy. The Districts with Growth Rate higher than both, State as well as National average are listed below, with Growth Rate shown against each- (1)Dhubri -24.40; (2)Morigaon -23.39; (3) Goalpara -22.74; (4) Nagaon -22.09; (5)Hailakandi -21.44; (6)Karimganj -20.74; (7)Barpeta -21.40; (8)Dhemaji -20.30; (9)Cachar -20.17; (10)Bongaigaon- 19.58; (11)Darrang-19.51; (12)Kamrup (Metro)-18.95; (13)Karbi Anglong-18.69; (14)Lalkhimpur-17.06. The higher Growth Rate of Lakhimpur and Dhemaji are most likely due to the influx of immigrant Muslims from Arunachal Pradesh, who were thrown out by the State Government and Students’ Organizations; the higher Growth Rate in Karbi Anglong is most likely due to similar influx from Nagaland and neighbouring Nagaon district.
Census reports have shown how the influx of immigrant Muslims has caused rapid demographic changes in several districts of Assam. But, our so–called secularists have always been silent to this serious issue; rather they are busy in converting illegal Bangladeshis into voters or legal citizens of India. In the 2011 polls, the Congress registered an unexpectedly huge victory by winning 78 of 126 seats of Assam Assembly. Tarun Gogoi returned to power for his third consecutive term. It was said that the poll outcome must primarily be attributed to the Muslim-backed AIUDF which succeeded in doubling its strength from 9 to 18. The AIUDF gained overwhelmingly in the immigrant Muslim dominated areas of lower Assam where the party’s strength grew from 3 in 2006 to 13 in 2011.If importing of voters from another country to vote for the leaders who have opened up the borders and made easy access to Assam is not stopped immediately, Assam will soon be annexed to Bangladesh.
History reveals that once Assam was a peaceful and stable state, with higher GDP and per capita income compared to the rest of the states of India. The current unrest, instability, rise in social crime and injustice, insurgency, lack of communal harmony, unemployment etc. have increased with the rise of illegal migrants from Bangladesh entering our state through the open and porous international borders. Unfortunately, leaderships and administrators in this country remain tenaciously uneducable. They have been claiming that the violence in the BTAD areas has no relationship to the long unresolved, and implicitly encouraged, problem of illegal Bangladeshi migrants. Even the Supreme Court’s goading on this issue has been underestimated. 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.”
It is high time for the government to take certain steps. (1) The government must seal the Indo-Bangla border immediately in line with Punjab and Kashmir. (2) The government should immediately start updating of NRC as per the terms agreed on during the tripartite talks between the Government of India, Government of Assam and ASSU. (3) The government needs to take firm steps for the implementation of the Assam Accord. (4) Strong steps must be taken for identification of illegal Bangladeshis and their prompt deportation. (5) The government must provide constitutional safeguards to the indigenous people of Assam. (6) The government must strictly monitor and ban organizations advocating and working for the interest of these illegal migrants from Bangladesh. (7) Strong actions must be taken by the government and the administration to squash the forces trying to destabilise the society by provoking sensitive campaigns in the name of religion. (8)The indigenous people should stop giving shelter, offering work to the illegal migrants and collectively work for complete economic blockade of these illegal migrants.
The future of our state is based on the situation of today and that is why the interests of the natives have to be always kept in mind. Political parties, instead of playing the blame-game and number-game, should come together in taking prompt action to prevent illegal migration from Bangladesh. The alarming growth of Muslim population in Assam due to large-scale influx of immigrant Muslims is an assault on the national, cultural and demographic integrity of India. It is observed that the people of Assam have gradually lost their faith over the government, parties, groups and organizations. Hence, the government must act against the illegal migration without delay; otherwise the indigenous people of Assam will have no option but to start a mass movement like that of 1979.