The silent Bangladeshi invasion of Assam

Oracle

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Subir Ghosh

A brazen attempt
A week ago, an unsettling incident occurred in Assam that went largely unnoticed in the Indian media.

Over a thousand suspected illegal migrants crossed the Dhansiri river and, with impunity, took over parts of Orang National Park in Darrang district in the early hours of May 6.

They came from the innumerable chars (riverine islands) that dot the Brahmaputra river.

They did not come empty-handed - they brought along building materials and cattle.

They apparently had come to stay. For good.

By the time forest guards spotted the invaders that afternoon, the migrants had already erected a hundred makeshift houses or more. The unnerved forest personnel called back for more hands and resources; they did not dare take on the illegal migrants who were armed with sharp weapons. The latter had not only come here to stay, but seemed inordinately determined to do so.

The forest department, in turn, sought the Army's help.

Sometime in the evening, the eviction drive began.

As the dismantling of the houses got under way, the settlers predictably began attacking the forest personnel. This they did after lining up women and children in front of them. The Armymen present had to fire in the air to ward them off.

The expulsion operation went on for three gruelling hours, with the forest department having to even use elephants to chase away the recalcitrant encroachers. Finally, at the end of the day, the national park had been cleared.

Even in a state where the issue of illegal migrants has dominated the political landscape for the last 30 years or so, this came as exceptionally alarming. Unprecedented, arguably, is the word.

Illegal migrants can tilt the electoral scales in close to half of the state's 126 Assembly constituencies.

If that is not enough, this was the first sign of Bangladeshi migrants asserting themselves - over land.

The buzz in forest circles is that this was the first such try; they fear more intrepid and brazen attempts from these illegal migrants in the days to come.

The riverine islands and reserved forests of Assam have been falling bit by bit to Bangladeshis for years now. But all this while, the encroachment of the state's reserved forests and wildlife sanctuaries/national parks had been a silent and ghostly invasion.

That is why the incident of May 6 needs to be taken more seriously.

It is the first ominous indication of the illegal migrants from Bangladesh asserting themselves physically. They need more land, you see.

Consequences
Let's look prima facie just at the issue of reserved forests and protected areas in the state.

Settlers in the char areas on the Brahmaputra near the national parks, especially Kaziranga and Orang, are known to be involved in rhino poaching. Most of these people, not surprisingly, are Bangladeshi migrants.

During a raid conducted by security personnel at a few villages on the fringe areas of Orang in March, weapons and traps used in poaching were recovered along with body parts of animals. All those arrested were suspected Bangladeshi nationals. But then, you can never prove that they are Bangladeshis.

Protected areas in Assam, like elsewhere in the country, are in a precarious state. The problems they face are the same - that of rampant encroachment, illegal logging, stone mining, and burgeoning human settlements in contiguous areas, among others. Illegal migrants compound these already existing headaches.

The state government has time and again made half-hearted attempts to jettison encroachers from forest areas; each time these had to be withdrawn after a few days of the launch. The hue and cry raised by vested interests was too much for the government of the day to handle.

Most of these encroachers were projected as Muslims and not as Bangladeshis. In these days of political correctness, no political dispensation, least of all the Congress, wants to be seen as anti-minority.

Then there were those who talk of people and forest rights. For them too, these settlers were not foreigners. They never are.

The result was inevitable. The encroachers, most of them illegal Bangladeshi migrants, stayed on.

How far-reaching the result was, is now there for us to see.

Impotent government
It is no more a question of people's rights over forest resources. It has degenerated into a sinister issue of illegal migrants asserting their 'unfettered' right to take over Indian forests and sanctuaries.

Incidentally, Assam has the largest amount of forest land under encroachment - 485,674 hectares. Andhra Pradesh, which is much larger, comes next with 268,853 hectares. Statistics always denote something, unless you are as blind as a bat.

What has been distressing is the scant coverage the May 6 incident received in the media. Do a search on Google News and you will get the tally.

No media coverage means no one knows about it. No one knows means that no one is scared of this disconcerting episode. That's what makes it so scary.

As it is, according to official Indian records there are hardly any illegal migrants in Assam.

Bangladesh denies the existence of its nationals in the state, or even elsewhere in India.

Most political parties in the state - from the Congress to the Left parties - too don't believe there are any. Neither the regional Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) or the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been able to do anything about the issue when they were in power either in the state or at the Centre.

There are only two kinds of people in Assam. The first lot sees no evil, the second has no idea how to tackle this evil.

Add to this unconfirmed reports that the takeover attempt of Orang was done at the behest of a Congress leader of the area. Even while they were being pushed out of the national park, the encroachers were heard issuing threats and making references to this Congress leader.

The All-Assam Students Union (AASU), that had led the Assam Agitation in the Eighties, has taken umbrage, and made its anger known after the incident. But that is all that it can probably do in today's Assam.

The invidious invasion of Assam has been taking place for several decades and successive governments have failed to arrest this demographic onslaught.

One need not delve too much into history or figures that are not authentic to make one's point; even recent official figures will suffice.

Enumeration of electors in Assam by the Election Commission showed more than 30 per cent increase in 17 Assembly constituencies and more than 20 per cent increase in 40 constituencies between 1994 and 1997.

Whereas the all-India average growth in electors between 1994 and 1997 was 7 per cent, the growth in Assam for this period was as high as 16.4 per cent.

It may be empirical, but the evidence is tell-tale.

The Assam Agitation, in hindsight, was successful only in the signing of an accord. The issue over which the movement was built, however, still rages on.

And now, a conniving Congress government in the state and an impotent Congress-led alliance at the Centre have allowed the problem of illegal migrants get out of hand. Yes, it is out of hand. If the May 6 assertiveness is no proof, what more can one possibly want?

Assam, today, is probably in dire need of another agitation.

The one of the Eighties was by and large peaceful. The Nellie massacre may have been a brutal and gory exception; but then, it was not officially engineered by the AASU. The next agitation, if one happens, will surely be a more virulent, violent one.

Subir Ghosh is a senior Delhi-based journalist. He blogs at http://www.write2kill.in/

http://sify.com/news/the-silent-bangladeshi-invasion-of-assam-imagegallery-national-kfotGVgacch.html
 

ajtr

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Is there anything to be surprised about. Illegal Bangladeshi immigration and encroachment have been taking place since decades.I bet sure you can find 100s of them in Bangalore too.The reason being India is unable to deal with it coz they form the vote-bank for the local politicians of CPI and congress. Delhi CM Ms.shiela dikshit herself announced 2 years back during Delhi state assembly election that Bangladeshis are our guests and they have as much rights in India as Indians have.When the leaders in the corridors of power themselves assist in illegal immigration for their short term gain then who are the Indians to question them. BTW soon Bangladesh will be going under water by 2030or sooner so think about where they all will go---surely in India.Last new i got few years back that Bangladeshis have overtaken one of the Andaman and Nicobar island and were driving away native protected population out from there.Better thing for India is to take over Bangladesh and grant them all Indian citizenship.....think about it?????
 
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bhramos

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If the BSF taking corruption from Bangladeshi's and letting them into India,
you will be shocked, how much they are taking for a single person.
just Rs 10.!!!
 

Phenom

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We need to fence of the Bangladesh border asap, also MNS like groups on border areas would be helpful in deterring these guys from entering the country.

PS: I don't support MNS even one bit, as they are targeting other Indians.
 

bhramos

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We need to fence of the Bangladesh border asap, also MNS like groups on border areas would be helpful in deterring these guys from entering the country.

PS: I don't support MNS even one bit, as they are targeting other Indians.
atleast In this way they could become helpfull, its atleast a good way to prove them as Indians.
 

Iamanidiot

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what he forgot to say is you are allowed to fire on illegal immigrants .kids and women alike.The Bodos do an excellent job of culling the migrants.Nowadays the migration has drastically reduced before the border was fenced
 

Oracle

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The Bodos do an excellent job of culling the migrants.
Not correct. Bodo militants do not give a damn about illegal Bangladeshi migrants.
Infact, not even a single terrorist organization which has a presence in Assam give a damn.
 
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sob

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As long as the immigrants represent a vote bank our politicians will turn a blind eye to them. Even after strictures by the SC on the illegal immigration in Assam and the scrapping of the IMDT act has had no impact on the local Cong. politicians.

This is an old article but it gives a very good idea about the seriousness of the problem in Bangladesh.

The Supreme Court of India has taken notice of all this and in a landmark ruling to speed up deportation of illegal Bangladeshi migrants from Assam, it scrapped the controversial Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983, on July 12 holding it responsible for delaying detection of foreigners in the state. In their unanimous verdict, Chief Justice RC Lahoti and Justices GP Mathur and PK Balasubramanyan ruled that the IMDT Act was unconstitutional and directed the immediate closure of all tribunals constituted under the Act to adjudicate cases for identification of illegal migrants from Bangladesh . The court also asked to transfer these cases to tribunals under the Foreigners Act. It also ordered setting up of sufficient number of tribunals to deal with the situation.

The bench noted that though enquiries were initiated in 310,759 cases under the IMDT Act, only 10,015 persons were declared as illegal migrants and finally only 1,481 were physically expelled up to April 30, 2000. The bench said the influx of Bangladeshi nationals into Assam posed a threat to the integrity and security of northeastern region. Their presence had changed the demographic character of that region and the local people of Assam had been reduced to a status of minority in certain districts. Against this, in West Bengal , where the Foreigners Act was applicable, 489,046 people were deported between 1983 and 1998. The judges said the enforcement of the IMDT Act had facilitated to a very large extent the illegal migrants from Bangladesh to continue to reside in Assam , and on account of their huge numbers, they had affected the language, script and culture of the local people. The bench also noted that the IMDT Act "is coming to the advantage of such illegal migrants as any proceedings initiated against them almost entirely ends in their favour, enables them to have a document having official sanctity to the effect that they are not illegal migrants."
http://www.saag.org/common/uploaded_files/paper1484.html
 

Iamanidiot

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oracle not the terrorists but iam saying about the local guys
 

bhramos

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what he forgot to say is you are allowed to fire on illegal immigrants .kids and women alike.The Bodos do an excellent job of culling the migrants.Nowadays the migration has drastically reduced before the border was fenced
bodos some terror camps present in Bangladesh, how could they they kill their helpers???
 

palash

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Indians journalism is still 50 years back comparely to neighbours. It is another example how a articles can be fabricated by Indians. I was visited in border area of Bangladesh bt it was such a risk for a human being that will lead no one to go there to be killed. The whole of Indian border with Bangladesh is sorrounded by ironic net where a cattle cant transport and the human being is so far to think. But the reality is at least 35-40 innocent villagers are being killed in the BD border every month by drunk, hiana Bsf personnel. bangladesh is not going to be under water as we are getting new land in bay of bengal.

However west bengal , tripura and assam is undivided part of Bangladesh as the most number of people from this states want to be with Bangladesh
 
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However west bengal , tripura and assam is undivided part of Bangladesh as the most number of people from this states want to be with Bangladesh
why dosen't Bangladesh open up immigration for these people since they want to be part of Bangladesh so badly???
 

IBRIS

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Indians journalism is still 50 years back comparely to neighbours.
Are you awake ????
It is another example how a articles can be fabricated by Indians.
Noooo, we indians like to be in past since we see as our long lost brothers were being tortured by our lovely paks..
I was visited in border area of Bangladesh bt it was such a risk for a human being that will lead no one to go there to be killed.
What the hell do you expect us to do, when we have millions of your brotherin bangladeshi's runing to our nation for a living. maybe your bangladeshi government should impose some sort of punishment for those who try to infiltrate into Indian territory.
The whole of Indian border with Bangladesh is sorrounded by ironic net where a cattle cant transport and the human being is so far to think.
You gotta be kidding me with your buffalo ( cattle) excuse.
But the reality is at least 35-40 innocent villagers are being killed in the BD border every month by drunk, hiana Bsf personnel.
So we should just let them hop 0over huh.... you are smokiing something, that i really want to smoke now.
bangladesh is not going to be under water as we are getting new land in bay of bengal.
JUST STOP IT.

However west bengal , tripura and assam is undivided part of Bangladesh as the most number of people from this states want to be with Bangladesh
Please tell that to your damn HASINA, Please read your history where we INDIAN demolished your oppressers.

YOUR WELCOME, YOU DAMN UNFAITHFUL BANGALADESHI
 
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palash

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I dont think there are any reason for a Bangladeshi to go in India. especially in assam or tripura bcz people from this places go to kolkata and other places to survive but in dhaka city a rickshaw puller earn more than $6 per day . So you unrealistic indian like to dream as India is such a developed,like USA, CANADA that thousands of immigrant are arriving mumbai airport or kolkata airport to work in india....You people never learn from history as you are going those countries illigely.
just one month ago i wathed a leading australian newspaper that reports a indian has been arrested for burning ownself to get insurance from the assi govt.
 

palash

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no more off topic rants
 
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Oracle

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However west bengal , tripura and assam is undivided part of Bangladesh as the most number of people from this states want to be with Bangladesh
Undivided part of Bangladesh? And these states want to be with Bangladesh? Are your credentials from a madrassa?
 

Oracle

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/\/\/\/\ LF, could you post the above article in a new thread to discuss. would be nice to see posts from fellow people of how to get rid of this cancer called illegal bangladeshis.
 

charan

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Now...whats wrong with these guys? Afterall...it's we who liberated them!=heheh
 

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