Vanishing Foreigners and Dispur's perfidy
The Gauhati High Court has asked some forthright questions to which the Tarun Gogoi government has no answers. So Dispur shamelessly seeks refuge in perfidy, knowing fully well that in interpreting and applying the law, the court will stay strictly within legal parameters. This State government has shown again and again that when it comes to protecting votebanks of the ruling party, it is ready to bend the foreigners law or look the other way whenever it is flouted brazenly. Observing how regularly people identified as foreigners by the Foreigners Tribul ‘vanish’ thereafter, while the government pleads helplessness in finding them, the court has asked — what is the use of having these tribuls if after the foreigners are identified, they are not straightaway deported? On 7 August in 2009, the Foreigners Tribul in Silchar declared five persons to be Bangladeshi foreigners, but immediately thereafter four of them disappeared. Like them, at least 35,000 Bangladeshi foreigners have vanished into thin air in Assam. There have been instances when some of these vanished foreigners later even petitioned courts of this land, pleading they are citizens. Many a time, they were emboldened by synchronised chorus in the State Assembly, questioning the very legitimacy of orders passed by Foreigners Tribuls and even by courts. This has given ample encouragement to people like Mohammad Kamruddin alias Kamaluddin, entering Assam from Bangladesh with a Pakistani passport, setting up home in a gaon village and fathering six children, deported twice only to slip back again, and then standing for Assembly elections in 1996 from Jamumukh constituency. This may be touted as a ‘wonder’ of Indian democracy by Bangladeshi votaries, or a shameful mockery of the country’s Constitution by all concerned, right-thinking Indian citizens. The Gauhati High Court while judging this case, had made the observation that at this rate, Bangladeshis would soon become kingmakers in Assam.
Thus it is that while the law of the land is flagrantly breached when a Pakistani passport holder from Bangladesh contests elections in Assam, other sections of law and government rules are invoked to somehow keep aliens here, equip them gradually with all necessary documents, and filly legitimise them into citizens. After making it to voters lists, illegal Bangladeshis may even have maged to get their mes incorporated into the tiol Register of Citizens (NRC) of 1951. According to a complaint to the Central government, the anti-migration forum ‘Prabrajanbirodhi Manch’ has raised the serious allegation that during the digitalisation of 1951 NRC, a section of the administration incorporated mes of Bangladeshi migrants even in districts like Kamrup Metro. The Union ministry of Home Affairs will soon dispatch a high-powered team to probe this allegation. In the light of this sinister development, another question now posed by the Gauhati High Court to Dispur assumes great significance — will the mes of those declared to be foreigners by the Tribuls, be incorporated in the NRC? Have the authorities updating the NRC been apprised about the orders passed by Foreigners Tribuls and also the High Court for non-inclusion of mes of illegal migrants declared to be foreigners? The High Court has also asked both the State and Central governments to file affidavits and inform about their action plan to catch and deport declared foreigners ‘without entertaining the act of vanishing being done by such foreigners’. In its scathing criticism of both the governments, the court has said that the two governments ‘are not at all serious towards detection, detention and deportation of such Bangladeshi migrants’. The observation of the honourable court says it all: ‘If this is the approach of the Union and the State governments in such a serious matter where the very existence of the indigenous people of Assam is in danger, what is in store in future can well be imagined’. The court therefore remains the sole hope for the indigenous people, with large sections of the political class betraying them and imperiling their very existence to seize and hold on to power.