Future of Assam: Foreigners’ Issue, Exodus of Climate Migrants

Chandramohan Kakati

(The writer is Ex-Deputy Commissioner & Collector,
he can be reached at kakatichandramohan7@gmail.com)

The newsitem “Climate change to trigger Bangla exodus : Hasina” published in one leading English daily of Assam way back in the early part of 2014 is still fresh in our mind. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s remark in the BIMSTEC SUMMIT caused much ripples in the entire North-East and more particularly in Assam amongst the Indigenous Asamiya. It needs mention that the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh without realizing the possible ramifications, never protested in the said summit. It smacks of tacit consent to welcome the ‘Climate migrants’ to consolidate the fiefdom of Congress in Assam. Hasina’s remark is nothing but a ploy to annex North-East in the garb of so-called climate migrants. Can we allow the entire North-East to remain for ever on the tenterhooks jeopardizing the sovereignty and internal security of the country?

In fact, it is reprehensible, if I am not mistaken, that all political parties including the ruling BJP in both the centre and the states are least bothered about the demographic change in the states in religion, language, culture and socio-cultural life and most importantly identity of Assamese across the world. Political parties interest is to remain in power by hook or by crook. It is time for them to introspect the cascading affect of Bangladeshis, both Muslims and Hindus. Can we expect any positive response from the opportunistic politicians who had been enduring the erstwhile East Pakistanis (now Bangladeshis) since Independence ? Virtually, anything to expect from them will be nothing but looking for a needle in a hay-stack ! Villages after villages that includes vacant and forest lands / Satra/Namghar lands/Tribal Belts & Blocks/PGRs/VGRS / Char lands in every day and every night by Bangladeshi land hungry intruders has become a regular feature in Assam. Infiltration through porous International Border poses a serious threat to the Indian Union and the same threat being aggravated by unabashed articulations of similar nature by Sheikh Hasina from time to time. Constant flow of Bangladeshis and the latest infiltration of Rohingias including radical elements are the burning issues plus the Centre’s move to pass Citizenship (Amendment)Bill, 2016 to give citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindus and other minority groups have stirred the public psyche from Sadiya to Dhubri in Assam. Silent invasion of land-hungry marauders supported by religious fundamental outfits have been spreading its tentacles causing incalculable harm to our ethnic indigenous populace beyond imagination.

Under the circumstances, we need statesman like Gopinath Bordoloi, who could assess the magnitude of the alarming situation and had the guts to devise ways and means to save Assam, caring little for ‘High-Command-Centric politics.’ Can we forget the darkdays of ‘Grow-More-Food-Scheme’ of the Britishers till the Saadullah Ministry in Assam ? Sheikh Hasina’s ’30 million Climate Migrants’ is a premonition of the notorious ‘grow-more-food-scheme’ of the last century for the second time which would propel the doomsday for Assam. Posterity will not forgive us unless we remember Lokapriya Bordoloi, who always walked with his head high to fight tooth and nail in defence of territorial integrity of India and more so to save Assam and emphatically expressed his reluctance to take the burden of East Pakistanis reiterating possible ramifications of the vicious plan of grow-more-food-scheme in Assam despite warnings of Jawaharlal Nehru. The role played by Gopi Bordoloi to save Assam from grouping always remains a perennial source of inspiration to us.

Thus, we see the difference between a politician and a statesman. We have produced many politicians but not a statesman like Bordoloi. To my mind, comes what Patricia Mukhim, a renowned journalist and columnist, has rightly said : …. “Statesmen lead while politicians follow.” Had the cold hands of death not snatched away Gopinath Bordoloi prematurely, the vexed problem of influx of migrants from East Pakistan could have stopped further before it becomes an unending and burning problem for Assam. Therefore, we need statesman like Bordoloi, but that dream too, never comes true, unless Prime Minister Modi stops repetition the role played by Nehru after Partition of India. Can we hope, with bated breath, Sarbananda Sonowal, once famed Jatiya Nayak to save Assam, who came out victorious in the legal battle while fighting boldly in the Supreme Court in repealing the IMDT Act, 1983 in the year 2005 ! Naturally, indigenous Asamiya urge upon Sonowal to play the role of Bharat Ratna Gopinath Bordoloi to save Assam bothering least about his ‘Chair’ ! We have not lost faith in him. That’s why Sarbananda Sonowal needs to recall the legacy of Bordoloi to save Assam at this critical juncture of Existential Crisis both politically, socially and culturally. We always crave for statesmen in Assam, but in turn, we are in the midst of politicians only. Relevant to quote Patricia Mukkhim again : We are suffering from a drought of statesmen and flood of politicians.”

PM Modi, while electioneering in Assam during Lok Sabha Election in 2014, promised to drive out Bangladeshis both Muslims and Hindus, if BJP comes to power at the centre and we were pinning hope for the same! But that hope too, is belied! The NDA regime, on the other hand, has brought the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Parliament for its passage to give shelter to Hindu Bangladeshis, etc., which is a flagrant violation of Assam Accord, 1985, that too, it ultra-vires the Constitution of India dividing people on religion in a secular country and centre’s move would certainly trigger existential crisis for Assamese populace. Instead of containing illegal influx of Bangladeshi migrants which has already changed the demographic profile in Assam as also the entire North-East, NDA government is hell-bent to pass the Bill in question. Now the time has come for the Modi government to have the ‘will’ to demonstrate its political pragmatism and at the sametime put pressure on Sheikh Hasina (since closer friendship between the two countries develops by leaps and bounds) for signing “Repatriation Treaty” so as to facilitate sending back all Bangladeshis even by offering a suitable “Rehabilitation Package” and simultaneously take effective steps to seal Indo-Bangla Border (including “Laser-Wall” wherever necessary) in the eastern sector. Since Indo-Pak Border was fully sealed within two years after partition, why has the Indian government not followed the same yardstick in the eastern front even after seventy one years of independence remains a ‘paradox’ to us ! Will Modi allow Nehru’s legacy of appeasement of erstwhile East Pakistanis (now Bangladeshis) to continue for political gain in the name of religion even by negating the basic tenets of the Indian Constitution with his government’s latest move to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The Bill is anti-constitutional and it goes against the very spirit of the Preamble of our Constitution. Being an astitute statesman, Modiji should see that Assam will not lose its soul. Else, ‘Accha Din’ will never come to Indigenous Asamiyas ! Since Hasina made an agreement with Myanmar and even set a time-frame for repatriation of Rohingia Muslims, why has she not shown any inclination to receive back the Bangladeshis entering India after mid-night of 24th March, 1971 ?

Modiji’s oft reapted rhetoric over the years for vibrant North-East will not be a boon, but instead a doom ! In the context of the vacumm created by the passing away of great statesman like Gopinath Bordoloi about 68 years back, may I request our revered PM Modi to read between the lines what the then Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Vallabhai Patel said about him : “ It is difficult to think of Assam without Gopinath Bordoloi. He had identified himself with the interest of his state, and for years the political life had so much intermingled with his great personality that we had come to think of the two entities being always synonymons.” Bordoloi’s relentless contribution against infiltration from the newly established East Pakistan despite Nehru’s disapproval is very much relevant to-day and our so-called political leaders should take a cue from Gopi Bordoloi. Hence, PM Modi will definitely take a relook into the matter adroitly and keep the promises he made as already said and give a freehand to Sonowal to fulfil his promises of driving out illegal Bangladeshi migrants irrespective of caste, creed, and religion. Else, their loud outcry to drive out Bangladeshis at that time, was actually an election gimmick.
(To be continued)