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Think twice before going to vote

On Tuesday, voters in 40 constituencies covering 12 districts of Assam are going to cast their votes for the third and final phase of election to the 15th Assam Legislative Assembly.

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Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  5 April 2021 5:00 AM GMT

On Tuesday, voters in 40 constituencies covering 12 districts of Assam are going to cast their votes for the third and final phase of election to the 15th Assam Legislative Assembly. This third and final phase is indeed very crucial not just for this election, but for the future of Assam and all the indigenous communities living here. As is being discussed all over, a sizable number of these 40 constituencies are inhabited by people whose roots are in erstwhile East Bengal, erstwhile East Pakistan and present-day Bangladesh. Large-scale migration, both legal and illegal, from the above-mentioned places since the beginning of the 20th century has dangerously changed the demography of many of these 12 districts, so much so that the indigenous communities have been reduced to a minority on their own land. In this connection, every patriotic person irrespective of linguistic, religious and ethnic affiliation should recall what Lt Gen SK Sinha, a former Vice-Chief of the Indian Army and a former Governor of Assam had stated in his report to the President of India on November 8, 1998. He had stated that the unabated influx of illegal migrants and the consequent perceptible change in the demographic pattern of Assam has been a matter of grave concern. While influx from the neighbouring country began in the early 20th century, "after independence, it acquired an international dimension and it now poses a grave threat to our national security." As Lt Gen Sinha had written, when the demand for Pakistan was raised in the 1940s, it was visualised that Pakistan would comprise Muslim-majority provinces in the West and Bang-e-Islam comprising Bengal and Assam. Jinnah had even declared in Guwahati just a few months before Independence that Assam was in his pocket. But, "failure to get Assam included in East Pakistan in 1947 remained a source of resentment in that country," so much so that while Bhutto, in his book 'Myths of Independence' had called Assam a 'dispute' between India and Pakistan equal to that of Kashmir, Lt Gen Sinha had even referred to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as saying that "Eastern Pakistan must include Assam." According to Lt Gen Sinha, "the dangerous consequences of large-scale illegal migration from Bangladesh, both for the people of Assam and more for the Nation as a whole, need to be emphatically stressed," and that "no misconceived and mistaken notions of secularism should be allowed to come in the way of doing so." The former Vice-Chief of the Indian Army had also warned that while influx was so dangerously changing the demography of the border districts of Assam that "it will then only be a matter of time when a demand for their merger with Bangladesh may be made," and that "loss of lower Assam will severe the entire land mass of the North-east from the rest of India." At this crucial time ahead of the third and last phase of the Assam Assembly election, every patriotic and responsible citizen and voter should also read what the Supreme Court of India had said in its historic judgment of July 12, 2005 while striking down the notorious IMDT Act. It had also said that Assam was facing "external aggression and internal disturbance" on account of large-scale illegal migration of Bangladeshi nationals. Now, the patriotic people of Assam, including those who had come from other parts of India and made Assam their home, must also keep in mind that while the Supreme Court of India had struck down the notorious IMDT Act of 1983 – enacted by the Congress government when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister and Hiteswar Saikia was Chief Minister – because it had only helped protect the illegal migrants instead of helping detect them, Maulana Badruddin Ajmal had formed the AIUDF immediately thereafter to protect the interests of those people (read illegal migrants) who became vulnerable in the absence of the IMDT Act. Today, while going out to vote, the patriotic people must keep this in mind as to which party is in alliance with which party, as also as to which party was responsible for the influx and which party stands clearly for protecting the interests of the migrants. After all, this election is not about forming a new government, but is also about deciding the future of Assam, her people, her culture and her position as an integral part of this great country.

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