Thursday, July 26, 2012

violence in Assam - the larger perspective of illegal immigrants

It is violence unprecedented – shocking and sad ! – Assam is burning – you may never get to know the real picture from the partisan media – but be sure, just because there is not much of TV footage, the situation is not any better.  All of us know, Assam is no Gujarat and Tarun Gogoi is no Narendra Modi – so the media would not cry hoarse about the violence – which has grave implications on the Nation. 

It is not a violence eruption of a single day / single incident – the  riot situation reportedly had been smouldering in the ethnically sensitive Bodoland Territorial Administered Districts (BTAD)—Kokrajhar, Baska, and Chirang barring Udalguri in Assam.  The Administrators were not prepared or keen to  anticipate trouble and still slower initiating action to quelling the flare-up.  The Print and electronic media may never capture or expost the riots unfolding in a Congress-ruled state.  The CM Gogoi goes on record claiming it to be a revelation of economic disparity.  Far away from the truth.
 
One of the most striking aspect is it is communal and India cannot claim or is forced to announce that there is no outsider hand – India does not fear Bangladesh but has only its wrong policies to blame.  The minority men who attacked the Bodo tribals and drove them out of their homes are in fact Indians, as they have got all rights and privileges from branded Bangladeshi settlers to Indian citizens.  It is the fundamental problem of latest riots and simmering tensions in Assam and elsewhere in the North East: the problem of unchecked infiltration of Bangladeshis into India. Assam is reaping the wages of communal politics. This time largely of the Congress variety — where vote banks have been courted through the clandestine encouragement of illegal Bangladeshi migrants over the last few decades.  The Bodo-Bangladeshi migrant clashes in Kokrajhar district — now heading for a toll close to 50 — are only the latest payback in this kind of politics. The ethnic Assamese, Bodos and other inhabitants, now fear — as they always have — that they will become minorities in their own states and district territories. That seemingly is a realistic fear, and given current illegal immigration trends.  It  is common knowledge that there may be deliberate undercounting of illegal immigrants due to political machinations.

It has been happening systematically and the demographics of the north-east has been impacted by illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, due to  the sheer weight of population pressures in Bangladesh, which pushes them into Assam and the rest of the north-east; and the pull effect of jobs and economic growth in India.  The fear would be more when you dare to think that the illegal immigration is not restricted to North East, but you can find themselves everywhere in every City -Delhi, Mumbai, and not restricted to the eastern states of West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

So illegal immigrants walk in royally, you have the politicians bending to provide them everything including ration cards for votes and they resort of first petty crimes, burglary, drugs pedaling, bootlegging, crime against women, and War against the State eventually.  There is no ISI involvement as often what P Chidambaram would cry on every crime occurrence in any metropolis.  When will we have a strong political will to stop such illegal immigration and treat immigrants as immigrants, is there anything wrong in such an attitude ?  - can you ever think of such an exodus in to US, France, England, Japan or Australia… why is India so weak-kneed !!!!  You read news of Nigerian women landing in Hyderabad for menial jobs and over a period of time what will happen, the Nation and politicians need to ponder. 

The Assam violence should remind us of this larger Indian responsibility. We already have  immigrants flowing from Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma and Sri Lanka – and each of them are treated differently for varied and known reasons !!!!!!!!

Violence should never be justified but it is not that  Bodos are on a short fuse all the time? A  It is not that Bodos as a community is given to fighting all the time – may be sometimes they are forced to do that for survival.   It would make a very sad piece of history if the largest and the oldest plain tribe in Assam with a rich cultural history  were to be known for their conflicts only – they are becoming a trouble-torn society. “It is not land issue alone. It is deprivation on several fronts. Our areas remain underdeveloped,” All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) president Pramod Boro toldFirstpost from Kokrajhar over telephone. He would not admit that Bodos are prone to picking up fights. “With the Assamese and Bengali population we have led a fairly peaceful life. In 1996, we had an ethnic clash with the Adivasis. But I believe that it was a third force that ignited the fire between the Santhals and the Bodos,” Boro said.  It is no secret that Bodo militant groups like the National Democratic Front of Bodoland and Bodo Liberation Tigers Front used gun power to scare away non-Bodo population from Bodo areas. The groups used force to assert their dominance in areas where they were in minority. The latest conflict involves Bangladeshi migrants. According to Bodo leaders, there has been large scale influx of illegal migrants to the Bodo districts. The local population is now at the risk of turning into a minority. The increasing population increases pressure on common economic resources too, they maintain. “Bangladeshis are filling Assam every day. This is not a secret…They would no longer be a minority. They would be majority very soon. Bangladeshis are a real threat.” Kameswar Brahma, president, Bodo Sahitya Sabha (BSS), agrees.

Sure the bloodshed would be arrested but Peace will return only when the Administrators, the Rulers show the political gumption and strong will to strike at the root of the problem and strategise long term policies to end the recurring violence.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
PS: Largely influenced by the reports in www.firstpost.com


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