Saturday, July 28, 2012

FISSURES IN ASSAM: SONS OF SOIL VS BANGLADESHI INTRUDERS




B.RAMAN

The persisting fissures in Assam, which periodically lead to outbreaks of communal violence,  are not between Indian Muslims and non-Muslims. They are between Indian sons of the soil, whatever be their ethnicity, religion or language, and Bangladeshi intruders.


2. The failure of successive Governments to deal effectively with continuing illegal immigration from Bangladesh by sealing the border, by strengthening border controls and by identifying and throwing back the illegal immigrants is giving rise to understandable concerns in the minds of the sons of the soil that they are being inexorably reduced to a minority in their own homeland.


3.There are even suspicions and fears of political and administrative connivance in facilitating the illegal migration and the integration of the illegal migrants with our own citizenry. The extent of these suspicions and concerns was evident from the observations of a Bodo student in an NDTV debate on the night of July 28,2012. He alleged that due to inaction by successive Governments the Muslims constitute 75 per cent of the population in certain areas.


4. While his figures seemed to be exaggerated, officials in our intelligence and security establishments agree that the failure of the State and Central Governments to counter head-on the problem of illegal immigration is eroding our internal security machinery  in the North-East.


5.There are similar  suspicions and concerns in the Rakhine State of Myanmar over the non-stopping illegal immigration of Muslims, known as Rohingyas, from Bangladesh. The anger among the sons of the soil over these intruders from Bangladesh periodically leads to outbreaks of violence between Muslims and non-Muslims.


6. There was one such outbreak recently in which there were about 80 fatalities and the internal displacement of a large number of persons who live in camps. A state of emergency was proclaimed by the Myanmar Government in the entire State and the Army was deployed to restore and maintain order and communal peace. Despite this, total normalcy has not yet been restored.


7.The Myanmar Government, security forces and political leaders including  Aung San Suu Kyi have been maintaining firmly that the problem in the Rakhine State is one of effective enforcement of law against foreign intruders. Suu Kyi, who is a strong defender of the ethnic rights of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities, has steadfastly refused to recognise the Rohingyas as an ethnic group of Myanmar. They are looked upon as intruders from Bangladesh who have no right to enjoy the same rights as the citizens of Myanmar.


8. Despite pressure from the UN , the Organisation of Islamic Countries and Western non-governmental human rights organisations, the  Myanmar Government has been firmly adhering to the view that these illegal migrants should either go back to Bangladesh or migrate to other countries that might be prepared to accommodate them.


9.Compared to India, Myanmar is a weak country. In spite of that, it has stuck to its position that it cannot extend the same protection and legal benefits to illegal migrants as it extends to its sons of the soil.


10.We call ourselves a big power. We pride ourselves on our national strength. And yet, we do not have the national will to act firmly and decisively against the Pakistan-based terrorists and the  Bangladesh origin illegal migrants who are slowly corroding our internal security.


11. The failure to admit and address the problems posed by the presence of a large number of  Bangladeshi intruders in Assam and the continuing further intrusion is due to various factors such as political opportunism, political and administrative complicity with the intruders and an inability and unwillingness to understand the strategic threat posed by them to peace and harmony in Assam.


12. The problem is rendered even more explosive by the insensitive attitude of the indigenous Muslims of Assam. They are one of us. They are our co-citizens entitled to the same rights and protection as you and I. But their misplaced feelings of religious solidarity with the Muslim intruders from Bangladesh and their tendency to downplay the extent of illegal migration and the threats posed by the migrants are creating suspicions in the minds of the non-Muslim sons of the soil.


13. The indigenous Muslim  sons of the soil should identify themselves with the feelings, suspicions and concerns of the non-Muslim citizens. They should be in the forefront of national solidarity. Otherwise, the wedge between the Muslim and non-Muslim sons of the soil  could grow wider and create more tensions and violence.


14.It is time for the Governments at the Centre and in the State, the political parties, the administration and leaders of the indigenous Muslims to do a serious introspection over the gathering concerns  in Assam and act unitedly against the intruders from Bangladesh. Ideas being floated by some think-tanks orchestrated from outside India for regularising the stay of the migrants by issuing them work permits are harebrained and should not be touched.


15. The only solution is stopping further illegal immigration through border fencing and identifying and throwing out those who have already come in. There is no question of their illegalities being regularised. (29-7-12)


( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-Mail: seventyone2@gmail.com . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

5 comments:

Pax Brutalis said...

Everyone knows this (but you will deny Mr Raman) that successive congress governments in Assam systematically do this for vote bank politics.

There is a system in place that makes crossing the Bangladesh-India border so easy for these people. Congress can actually sell this country to stay in power.

On a related note, I would be interested to know Mr Rahul Gandhi's thoughts (the 'crown prince' of India) on this issue of national security. Once Rahul Gandhi becomes PM, all these issues will solve themselves.

Shirish Dave said...

Mr. Raman, Tell spade a spade.
Do not say "all successive Governments". It is only Nehruvian Congress Government who is the creator of this problem and also maintainer of this problem. This problem is as old as 1967 since Indira took over the rein of India. She gave false promises and took false oaths to remove all infiltrators. No Government without cooperation of Central Government can take effective measures. It is the Nehruvian Congress Governments that has ruled India for 6 decades and in North East also for most period.

Binod Ringania said...

Dear Sir,
It is good that you have written something on Assam situation. I would like you to have a look on the following points also.
1. Tension in the Bodo autonomous area BTAD was brewing since 3-4 months back. The tension was not between Muslims and Bodos, but it was between Bodos and most non-Bodo communities. A conglomerate of organizations representing different communities, Non-Bodo Protection Forum, was formed to oppose the alleged terror of former insurgents, known in the area as ex-BLT and two groups of present insurgent NDFB (pro-talks) and NDFB (anit-talks).
2. All non-Bodo communities in the Bodo-dominated areas have been complaining of extortion of money, kidnapping for ransom by the former and present insurgents since quite some time.
3. It is evident that the former insurgents, ex-BLTs, have retained many arms with them even after their bosses disbanded the outfit and formed a political party to rule the BTAD.
4. Although law and order of BTAD is still in the control of the state government, the state police is practically rendered helpless as it finds itself unable to take action against the crimes perpetrated by the former and present insurgents.
5. Army is engaged in anti-insurgency operations in the area. They operate only against the NDFB (anti-talks faction), and the crimes perpetrated by the pro-talks NDFB and former BLT cadres are considered, rightly so, as the regular problem of law enforcing.
6. The growing crimes by the arms wielding former and present insurgents made the non-Bodo communities increasing threatened and they took to many peaceful agitational programmes in the last 3-4 months, which included demonstrating in front of Governor's house in Guwahati in July.
7. Outfits representing Muslims in BTAD were seen becoming more strident during last 3-4 months. They even opposed the demand of separate Bodoland state and had the temerity to say that the villages having less than 50% Bodo population should be excluded from the autonomous territory.
8. This seems to have rubbed the wrong side of the Bodo outfits. Those Muslims who are in the refugee camps said to this writer that at most places the attackers were firing from firearms and many said that they were local ex-BLT cadres. Union Home Minister has also conceded the area is a minefield of illegal arms.
9. Mixing up the issue of illegal migrants from Bangladesh with the present turmoil will, I think, blur the real picture of the violence. Bodos are aware that in their area they are still a minority. So to convert the minority status into a majority one, which they think will strengthen their claim for statehood, they have adopted the policy of forceful eviction of the non-Bodo inhabitants from the area of BTAD. This was earlier tried successfully with the Santhals, who later formed their armed organization (now engaged in negotiation with the government) ostensibly for self protection. And the same is now replicated with the Muslim settlers.
10. Many non-Bodo families, who can afford, have relocated to safer places outside BTAD area during past one decade. All these families are from the communities, whom many prefer to call sons of the soil.

Manan said...

MR. Raman, kudos for you to talk and point clearly the problem behind assam riots but I wonder why did you fell short of calling out the party who are "successive state government and central government"----> CONGRESS and its vote bank politics

Why half baked truth. and why not "Do's and Dont's for rahul gandhi on handling of assam sitution???

Wonder why???

Paresh Rao said...

Mr. Raman you are nothing but a congress agent!!! see people of Gujarat & India knows very well what Modi has did for Gujarat.

can you say in your tenure of job you have not taken bribe. stop misleading people of India. I think after retirement you are planning to contest election on congress ticket... hahaha dont dream in the light of DAY