The news that Bangladesh has decided to take back 11 Bangladeshis who have spent a long time in a detention camp in Assam very soon seems to have created quite a bit of a media stir. These 11 Bangladeshis, including two children, are in the Silchar detention camp and are to be repatriated shortly. Last year, Cachar Deputy Commissioner S. Viswathan had submitted a list of 11 Bangladeshis held in the detention camp at Silchar to the Deputy Commissioner of Sylhet and Maulavibazar of Bangladesh. Having examined the list of the 11 Bangladeshis, the Bangladesh government has agreed to their repatriation. A section of the press in Assam regards this initiative as the onset of the process of repatriation of other Bangladeshis in the detention camps of Assam. However, most people are bound to look at the initiative in a more pragmatic and ratiol manner for what it is—no more than a silly or even cruel political joke.
It is not as though the Bangladesh government or the Indian government is uware of the lakhs of Bangladeshis who have infiltrated into India illegally and chosen to remain here. Most of this illegal migration has been to Assam, Bengal and Tripura in addition to other States of the Northeast. It is not as though the government of India is uware of political parties and political leaders like Tarun Gogoi and his many devout followers who have actively encouraged the illegal migration of Bangladeshis for years for illegal electoral gains. So dedicated have the efforts of Tarun Gogoi been in this particular endeavour that he had, for years, even sabotaged the updating of the tiol Register of Citizens (NRC) of 1951 until the Supreme Court took a hand in the matter and directed the Assam government to complete the work within a time-frame. It is another matter that the time frame has not been adhered to for reasons beyond the control of the authorities. As such, when the enormity of the demographic change brought about by large-scale illegal immigration of Bangladesh to States like Assam is so well known, the initiative of Bangladesh in agreeing to the repatriation of just 11 Bangladeshis from Assam is farcical. For Assam, it is not just a silly political joke but a cruel one, because in nine or ten districts of Assam the indigenous people of the State have already become a minority, and this is rapidly happening in other districts as well. This is hardly surprising because in contrast to the indigenous monogamous Muslims of Assam, the illegal migrants from Bangladesh who are Muslims are almost invariably polygamous. There is thus an active endeavour on their part to increase their population by leaps and bounds as has also happened in several European countries. It is in this milieu that there is an attempt to acclaim the repatriation of just 11 Bangladeshis from Assam to their tive land. Anyone can see the absurdity of hailing a process that will take a century to complete at the rate of 10 or 11 repatriations at a time. And by then the Assamese in Assam will cease to matter anymore. The irony is that the government, ostrich-like, refuses to see the prevailing reality of lakhs of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India and hails a ludicrous exercise of the repatriation of just 11 Bangladeshis. How farcical can the administration get? No wonder there is a cartoon in one of our newspapers to the effect that these 11 persons are being returned within the “warranty period” so that they can be replaced by 11 other fresh Bangladeshis functioning properly. It is time we moved from silly political jokes to the kind of action that will bring the large-scale illegal immigration from Bangladesh to a swift end.