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No Talk about Migrants

For some inexplicable reason, the heads of government of India and Bangladesh do not talk about the most vital issue affecting India when they meet and sign agreements. This is not just a recent development. For some reason, over the years, the government of India has refrained from talking about illegal migration from Bangladesh to India even though this should have been deemed the most vital bilateral issue for our country. One can understand the reluctance of Bangladesh to even be reminded of an issue that is at the forefront of our concerns—at least as far as the people of Assam are concerned. It is indeed remarkable that even though 22 agreements were signed between the two countries during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India last year, no pact was signed on deportation. What is remarkable is that a 62-point joint statement was issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart during Sheikh Hasina’s visit, which covered wide-ranging issues of mutual cooperation including economic development and terrorism, but not a single word was mentioned about the problem of infiltration of Bangladeshi nationals to India. This revelation acquires special significance against the background of the Centre’s determination to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus from Bangladesh even against the wishes of the people of Assam. It is now becoming very obvious that the Centre has no compunctions about unleashing any black legislation that is bound to have serious consequences on the people, selectively on the people of Assam. This is an attitude that is inconsistent with the ideals of democracy, and deserves to be abandoned forthwith. Over the years, Assam has become a dumping ground for illegal migrants from other countries, notably from Bangladesh. This is a situation that is totally intolerable for the people of Assam. It will not do for the Centre to pretend that it can enact black laws that affect the people of Assam selectively and then complain about Assam’s opposition to laws that seem to be legislated for the entire country, but are, in fact laws that are directed against Assam alone.

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Ankur Kalita