Assam- The Nation is being made to suffer self-inflicted wounds

via Lt Gen SK Sinha (Retd) published on November 9, 2008
The shocking serial bomb blasts in Assam, the other day, in which over 81 innocent people got killed is a sad reflection on the functioning of the Government which has reduced India to a very soft State. Terrorists have been attacking city after city and our rulers issue only inane statements. In the case of Assam, the Nation is being made to suffer self-inflicted wounds.

 
Way back in the Sixties, forty years ago the then Governor of Assam, B K Nehru, and his Chief Minister B P Chaliha wanted to take measures against the influx of illegal migrants and took up the matter with the Centre. They were told to stop the nonsense.

 

 
B K Nehru was from the dynasty, a cousin of Indira Gandhi. In his autobiography, ‘ Nice Guys Finish Second ‘, he wrote that Chaliha belonged to an earlier generation of Congressmen that had a different set of values. They considered national interest above party interests which was now not so with the present generation of Congressmen. This was a clear indictment of vote bank politics.

 
Thirty years later, as Governor of Assam, I also took up this issue. I submitted a 42 page report to the President of India. I made 15 specific recommendations to check the danger posed by the unabated influx of illegal migrants from Assam not only to the demography of Assam but also to the Nation’s security.

 
These recommendations included the repeal of IMDT Act, border fencing, introducing photo identity cards at least in the border districts and updating national register of citizens. My recommendations were ignored. Congress legislators in Assam appealed to the President calling for my recall. Ultimately, the IMDT Act was struck down by the Supreme Court quoting extensively from my report but the Government brought it back through the backdoor, by amending the Foreigner’s Act. The fencing of the 260 kilometer land border in Assam supposed to have started in 1985, is not yet fully complete.

 
While I was Governor of J & K, the Army completed a much more sophisticated fencing of 750 kilometers of the border, in far more difficult terrain. As for photo identity cards and national registere of citizens, no action whatsoever has been taken.

 
There has been total lack of political will to take any action to stop the demographic aggression in Assam due to vote bank considerations.

 
On 10 April 1992, Hiteshwar Saikia the then Chief Minister of Assam stated in the State Assembly that there were 3 million illegal immigrants in Assam. Two days later he was pressurized to say to the Press that there were no illegal immigrants in Assam.

 

 
On 6 May 1997 the then Union Home Minister, Indrajit Gupta, told the Parliament that there were 1 crore illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India.

 

On 15 July 2004 K P Jaiswal the Minister of State for Home told the Parliament that there were 1.2 crore illegal immigrants in the country. The following day Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in Guwahati. Obviously under the influence of local Congressmen, he stated that the figures mentioned by his junior Minister in the Parliament were not authentic. A week later Jaiswal told the Parliament that he had quoted figures on the basis of hearsay.


 
The root cause of militancy and Jehadi violence in Assam has been illegal migration from Bangladesh. For the sake of votes, the ruling party has not only been turning a Nelson’s eye to the problem but has been encouraging it.

 
The influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into Assam continues unabated. The demographic contour of all the border districts, particularly in Lower Assam has changed radically. In many of these districts Bangladeshis are now in a majority.

 
The district of Dhubri which abuts the sensitive Siliguri corridor, called the Chicken Neck, has a 70% Bangladeshi Muslim population. The consequence of this for the entire land mass of the North East can be most serious. It vitally affects not only the people of Assam but the entire Nation. Apart from the Government required totake stringent measures against Jehadi terrorism all the country, it must take prompt concrete measures on a war footing, to counter the unabated influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into Assam.

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