EDITORIAL

Immigration Policy: Failure to Check Influx in Assam

Influx

At a time when the people of Assam are overwhelmed by the problem of large-scale illegal immigration from Bangladesh and are in danger of even losing their identity, one cannot help going back to the wise proposals mooted in 1965 to tackle the problem. There were three major proposals that were mooted but never implemented. The first was the compilation of a register of citizens and the issue of identity cards on the basis of the register of citizens. The second was the erection of a barbed-wire fencing all along the border with East Pakistan (what is now Bangladesh). The third was the clearing of the border areas. This involved the shifting of about 25,000 families (128,000 persons) along the 560 square mile belt on the Assam-East Pakistan border. What is very typical of the people of Assam (and therefore the Government of Assam) was that every one of these tasks was found to be difficult and was therefore abandoned. Strangely enough, the State government hemmed and hawed even on the proposal of issuing identity cards for 10 years before abandoning the idea in 1966! Tasks like shifting 25,000 families from the border areas were quite inconceivable for our officers. And so, where are we now? Why, we are struggling with the National Register of Citizens. Can it really be very different from what was proposed way back in 1965 but never carried out? Even today, we are unable to have a proper fencing along the border because Bangladesh does not want a fence. When can we do what is absolutely essential for India? Let us ask Sheikh Hasina Wazed.