Friday, October 31, 2008


61 years ago, India was divided on the basis of religion and Pakistan was carved out as the home of India's Muslims. In the west Punjabi Muslims and in the east Bengali Muslims, chose religion over ethnicity, and the states of Punjab and Bengal were divided to become parts of two hostile nations. In 1971, Bengali Muslims of East Pakistan rose in revolt against the domination of the numerically fewer Muslims of West Pakistan. With India's help, they broke away from that Islamic nation. But, and this is the significant part, they still did not choose ethnicity over religion to revert to India. Instead, they established a new religion based country, somewhat misleadingly called Bangladesh.

With the creation of Bangladesh, the implacable hostility that marked relations between India and erstwhile East Pakistan did get dissolved in the first few years. But, after Mujibur Rehman was assassinated in 1975, a chill began to develop in India's relations with Bangladesh and it has only grown since. Bangladesh is now 'home' to secessionist groups of India's North Eastern states, Pakistan's ISI and other Islamic jehadi elements linked to, and drawing inspiration from, similar elements of Pakistan that have been actively engaged in spreading terror in India.

Before Bangladesh was created, millions of Bangladeshis took refuge in India to escape the atrocities that the Pakistani Army was committing in East Pakistan. After General AAK Niazi surrendered to General JS Arora, they should have all gone back to their country. Instead, many of them chose to stay on in India as it offered better opportunities and, this needs to be noted, Indian Bengalis and Assamese let them stay on, and even take on Indian citizenship. Something like this could just not have happened in the western part of India with respect to non-Bengali Pakistanis.

India's political parties, always on the look out for enhancing their 'vote banks', actively encouraged this process not just immediately after 1971 but even later and continue to do so till now. As a result, a startlingly large number of Bangladeshi Muslims who illegally entered India have made it their permanent home, dramatically altering the demographic pattern in many districts in Assam and even West Bengal.

What has been the response of successive Congress governments to this 'invasion' which has now assumed really dangerous proportions?

Detection of foreigners in India is done under the Foreigners Act 1946. As per this Act, the onus of proving one's nationality rests on the accused. But in Assam, which has witnessed the largest influx of Bangladeshis, this Act was replaced by the IMDT Act by Indira Gandhi in 1983. In one stroke, the onus of proving that an individual was not an Indian was shifted from the individual to the complainant and the police, and the procedures for doing so were made so cumbersome that it became virtually impossible to prove that an illegal immigrant was not an Indian. Why was this done? Only so that the Congress party could win elections in the state with help of the citizens of the very country that had broken away from India.

In 2005, the IMDT Act was struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. The Honourable court had then itself warned that "Assam is facing external aggression and internal disturbance on account of large-scale illegal migration of Bangladeshi nationals." It had also warned the government that if the illegal migration was not immediately stopped and foreigners were not deported, the situation would soon go out of control.

It is not the Supreme Court alone that has warned the government. In 1998, the then Governor of Assam, General SK Sinha had , in a detailed report to the Centre, warned that as important as the the Kashmir dispute was the one involving the influx of Bangladeshis, almost exclusively Muslims, into the North East. "We can ill afford to ignore the demographic invasion from that country." General Sinha had also brought out that Bangladesh was continuing to pursue the systematic agenda of pro-Pakistani leaders before Independence to include Assam and adjoining areas in Bangladesh (East Pakistan). Warning against the mixing of religion and policy on illegal immigration, he had added: " The dangerous consequence of large scale illegal immigration...need to be emphatically stressed. No misconceived and mistaken notion of secularism should be allowed to come in the way of doing so."

The Army has also been repeatedly warning the government about the the fast changing demographics of Assam and the fact that the top leadership of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) was enjoying the hospitality of Bangladesh government and had joined hands with the the Bangladeshi Islamic terrorist outfit HUJI and Pakistan's ISI to sustain its operations in Assam that had taken the shape of an industry with an annual turnover running into thousands of crores of rupees.

Notwithstanding all these warnings and many more, successive governments have done nothing at all to tackle the problem at its root. On the contrary, illegal migrations continue unabated. No politician has the courage and patriotism to place national interest above the demands of his vote bank. Similarly, the Army has been repeatedly asked to take it foot off the pedal by either declaring a cease fire or "going slow" whenever it has come close to breaking the ULFA's backbone. Why has that been done? Politicians are fully involved in ULFA's flourishing racket and are making a neat pile out of it too.

The changes in the demographics of Assam are just too serious to be ignored any longer. A report in The Times of India of October 31, 2008, has highlighted in some detail the swift changes that are taking place, making the already volatile brew of ethnic and communal politics more potent. Assamese speakers have already declined from 57.81% to 48.80%, becoming a minority in their own state. As per the Congress government's own reluctant admission and almost certainly suppressed figures, in 2004 there were 50 lakh Bangladeshis illegally living in Assam. This map and chart published in the paper graphically brings out the disproportionate growth of Muslims in the six districts of the state where Muslims are already in a majority. In addition, there are as many districts where Muslims number between 35% and 50% of the population, and are growing at a much faster rate.

These systematic and manifestly well planned changes have created a very dangerous situation in Assam. This month has already seen two major incidents which point to very dark and difficult days ahead. In early October, nearly a lakh Bodos were forced by Muslims waving Islamic flags to flee from their homes and take shelter in relief camps, where they still are, unable to claim back their dwellings. In the deadliest terror attack anywhere in India in 2008, 13 serial blasts rocked Assam yesterday, killing 61 and injuring over 300. The ULFA has denied its involvement in these blasts which have targeted indigenous Assamese and it is almost certain that the HUJI is responsible for them.

It is time for India to remember that Bangladesh is just another Pakistan with a different name. As far as India is concerned, illegal entry of a Bangaldeshi into India should be treated no differently from that of a Pakistani, for which India rightly continues to display zero tolerance. Both these countries were carved out of India solely on the basis of religion and both continue to pursue a hostile attitude towards it. Bangladesh, being militarily weak, is not in a position to articulate its stance and flex its muscles as blatantly as Pakistan does. That weakness should not fool anyone into complacence and a false sense of security.

Unfortunately, India's political leaders have badly compromised the nation's security by turning a blind eye to - even welcoming - the teeming millions who have illegally entered this country from Bangladesh and settled down in almost all parts of the country. The level to which leading politicians can sink was only recently demonstrated by Ram Vilas Paswan, a Minister in India's cabinet. Without a trace of shame, he demanded that all Bangladeshis in India be given Indian citizenship. Paswan is manifestly so blinded by his greed for political power that he is even willing to 'sell his mother' to get it.

Paswan and his ilk cannot get even one Bangladeshi to settle in Kashmir and become the subject of that state. Kashmiri Muslims of the Valley are not willing to let the brotherhood of Islam make them ignore demographics. But to our politicians nothing matters but votes, no matter what the price the nation has to pay.

Assam is on its way to being swamped by Bangladeshis. The dream of some pre-independence leaders to convert Assam into Pakistan is being rapidly turned into reality by India's so called secular leaders unwilling to look beyond their votes. The bordering areas of West Bengal have also been allowed to be demographically altered by the commies of that state with precisely the same objective. Bangladeshis have also comfortably settled in large numbers all over India. The serious threat that these developments pose to India's security has been brought home many times already and cannot be ignored any longer.

It is time for India to realise that though they may call themselves Bangladeshis, as far as India is concerned, they were and are Pakistanis in spirit. They are not Indians. They pose the same threat to India that Pakistan and Pakistanis do. India cannot have them living on its territory. India needs to send them back to their chosen land. And India needs to that fast.

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To get a comprehensive view of the historical roots of this problem and others that have plagued Assam, readers MUST read this outstanding post written by Shubho:
The tragedy called Assam