It is very unfortunate that the repatriation of foreigners declared as Bangladeshis by the Foreigners Tribunals and courts in Assam has proved to be an arduous task for the Assam government. As has been reported by this newspaper in its Sunday edition, ascertaining the addresses of the people declared as foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunals itself has remained the most important hiccup in the repatriation process. It is very important to note that till the end of July 2020 the Border Police in Assam had referred as many as 4,34,654 cases against people of suspected nationalities to the Foreigners Tribunals in the State. The Foreigners Tribunals on their part have so far disposed of 2,20,833 of these 4,34,654 cases and declared as many as 1,34,810 people as foreigners. But, what has been worrisome is the fact that the Foreigners Tribunals judgments of concerning about 80,000 declared Bangladeshis were pronounced ex parte, ie, in their absence, and the police have not been able to find out the whereabouts of most of these infiltrators. Recalling statements made by successive governments in the Assam Legislative Assembly one will generally find that the most common answer to the question regarding deportation or expulsion of Bangladeshi infiltrators was that those persons declared as foreigners could not be deported because they have disappeared. One does not require any rocket science to find out where these 80,000 infiltrators have vanished.
They are very much in Assam and in India, and have remained mingled with two categories of people, (a) people of similar roots in erstwhile East Bengal and erstwhile East Pakistan who are in lakhs in Assam and have drastically changed the demography of several districts of the state, and (b) people who have also infiltrated but have not been identified, taken to the Foreigners Tribunals and have not been declared as foreigners, and who are in lakhs in various districts of Assam. Additionally, the six detention camps in Assam still have around 3,000 declared foreigners, all of whom are Bangladeshi infiltrators. As has been reported, Border Police has identified two major challenges in repatriation of these foreigners/infiltrators; these are (a) abysmal delay in ascertaining the addresses of declared foreigners by the Bangladesh government, and (b) keeping thousands of declared foreigners, who don't disclose their addresses in Bangladesh, in detention camps. Moreover, there is a standing guideline from the Supreme Court of India that no declared foreigner should be made to languish in detention camps for more than three years after which he or she should be released under certain conditions. And over and above these, there are also some political parties and a section of intellectuals who not only dismiss any report about Bangladeshi infiltration to Assam, but also work overtime to protect the interests of the lakhs of illegal migrants. For them, the threat to the very existence of the indigenous communities of Assam, as also the threat to the integrity and sovereignty of India in the Northeast is a non-issue. For these political parties and intellectuals, the rapid, dangerous and irreversible demographic change that has taken place in the districts of Dhubri, South Salmara Mankachar, Goalpara, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Chirang, Barpeta, Nalbari, Darrang, Morigaon, Nagaon, Hojai, Biswanath, Sonitpur and Lakhimpur, not to speak of the three Barak Valley districts, is not an issue at all. These are the same political parties as also the same set of intellectuals which had opposed the AASU-led movement of 1979-85, (of course the AIUDF is a later addition to this category).