Skip to content

The Myth of the Bangladeshi and Violence in Assam: Nilim Dutta

August 16, 2012

Guest post by NILIM DUTTA

Map credit: idsa.in

The recent spate of violence that began in the Kokrajhar district of Assam in the month of July 2012 and then spread to the adjoining districts of the Bodoland Territorial Council, primarily between the Bodos and the Muslim community of immigrant origin settled in these districts, has once again unleashed a vicious debate on the perils posed by alleged unrestricted illegal immigration from Bangladesh, this time even on the floor of the Lok Sabha.

The situation has been further complicated by a ‘protest’ in Mumbai against ‘violence on Muslims in Assam’ turning into a riot or by sundry attacks as ‘retaliation’ against people from North East elsewhere in India. Thanks to either shockingly uninformed or brazenly motivated opinions being aired around incessantly, much of it in the national electronic and print media, the dominant discourse that has evolved around the issue has created three distinct perceptions:

First, that illegal immigration of Bengali Muslim peasants from neighbouring Bangladesh into Assam has been continuing unabated, leading to skewed demographic profiles of Assam’s districts bordering Bangladesh and thereafter, turning several adjoining districts of Assam to Muslim majority.

Second, that these illegal Bengali Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh have rapaciously encroached upon and occupied land belonging to the native communities, thereby creating a volatile situation for potential violence and lethal clashes between illegal immigrants and natives.

Third, that the ethnic clash that began between the native Bodos (‘Hindu’ Bodos, as emphatically pointed out by the Election Commissioner Shri H. S. Brahma who hails from the community) and illegal Muslim immigrants settled in Kokrajhar was a result of aggression and attack by the latter on the Bodos, emboldened by their growing numerical strength, or in the least, was a spontaneous reaction of Bodos to the growing aggression of the immigrants and progressive usurpation of native land and resources by them.

The above perceptions are, however, far from accurate. In order to understand why, it would be important to carefully re-examine how they have emerged, the inherent flaws in the assumptions and what the reality actually is.

‘Migration’ rather than ‘illegal immigration’ is largely responsible for demographic transformation.

The migration of Bengali Muslim peasants from East Bengal into Assam has certainly transformed the demography of the latter, more noticeably in some districts, but to claim all of it happened due to illegal immigration from Bangladesh is not only historically incorrect, but wilful distortion of facts.

The claim of massive and continuing migration transforming the demographic profile of Assam is most commonly sought to be proven by citing the high decadal population growth rate of Assam since 1951, as per the Census of India which I have cited below in Table 1.

Table 1

Percentage Decadal Variation in Population since 1951 in India and Assam

1951-61

1961-71

1971-81

1971-91

1991-01

01-2011

India

21.64

24.80

24.66

54.41

21.54

17.64

Assam

34.98

34.95

-

53.26

18.92

16.93

Dhubri

43.74

43.26

-

45.65

22.97

24.40

Dhemaji

75.21

103.42

-

107.50

19.45

20.30

Karbi Anglong

79.21

68.28

-

74.72

22.72

18.69

If we compare the decadal growth rate of population in Assam with that of India, particularly taking note of the historical background of large scale migration of Bengali Muslim peasants from East Bengal in the decades preceding Partition since the late 1800s during British colonial rule, the figures would look almost conclusive that such influx must have continued alarmingly, now as illegal immigration.

If the decadal growth rate of population in the Dhubri district of Assam (Table 1), which borders Bangladesh and also has the highest percentage of Muslim population (74.29%) among the 27 districts of Assam, is added to the comparison, it would appear to be among the most conclusive evidence of illegal immigration with growth rates much higher than that of Assam as a whole.

But are the above figures of decadal growth rates of population and their comparisons really irrefutable evidence of influx of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants into Assam?

It would be pertinent to point out right that this high population growth rate in Assam has declined since 1971 and has remained lower than that of India (Table 1), categorically refuting assumptions of continuing illegal immigration from Bangladesh. Through the Assam Accord of 1985, only those who have entered Assam later than 25 March 1971 are considered illegal immigrants. Isn’t this indication enough then, that the much of the influx occurred before 1971 and as such cannot be considered illegal immigration?

If we just look at the decadal growth rates of population in two other districts of Assam, Dhemaji and Karbi Anglong, we will see that their growth rates in comparison have been more than twice that of Assam and substantially higher than even the ‘Muslim’ majority ‘border’ district of Dhubri (Table 1). Yet, the Muslim population in Dhemaji and Karbi Anglong is minuscule. The Hindu population in these two districts is 95.94% and 82.39% Hindu respectively; Scheduled Tribes constitute 47.29% and 55.69% of their population respectively. Muslims constitute merely 1.84% and 2.22% respectively of their total populations, in spite of having consistent high decadal growth rates – Dhemaji touching 103.42% between 1961-71 and Karbi Anglong having a similar high of 79.21% between 1951-61. This should be testimony enough that there could be reasons apart from illegal immigration or having a Muslim population behind a high decadal growth rate of population.

The above categorically reveals that selective citing of census data claiming ‘abnormally high’ decadal growth rate of population cannot be conclusive evidence of illegal immigration from Bangladesh. Furthermore, against Assam having just three districts bordering Bangladesh, Meghalaya has five, which have shown higher decadal growth rates of population than the districts of Assam yet have an insignificant Muslim population negating any suspicion that they could have been swamped by illegal Bangladeshis. This also negates the presumption that merely bordering Bangladesh would make a district vulnerable to illegal immigration.

What is the reality then?

The migration of Bengali Muslim peasants from erstwhile East Bengal began in the 1800s after the British annexed Assam in 1826, with the Treaty of Yandaboo after defeating the Burmese in the First Anglo Burmese War. ‘Malevolent’ colonial policies of the British in Bengal, such as the Permanent Settlement, had already wreaked Bengal’s economy and pauperized its artisans and peasantry. Severe exploitation under its zamindari system added to the woes of the peasantry. In the geographically contiguous province of Assam, population density was low, land was abundant and there was no zamindari system. It was just a matter of time before an impoverished and harassed Bengali Muslim peasantry began migrating in a trickle which became a deluge, encouraged by the British. It served their purpose to settle large numbers of Bengalis on vacant land to increase land revenue, as well as have readily available cheap labour in a labour-deficient province. Initially, the immigrants were welcomed by even the Assamese landed gentry for the cheap labour.

By the second decade of the 20th century, however, this incessant influx became a cause for alarm and a ‘Line System’ was introduced in the affected districts of Nagaon and Kamrup in 1920, restricting immigrants from settling beyond certain limits on land over which natives claimed rights. That is how vast tracts of land in the then undivided Nagaon, Kamrup and Goalpara districts came to be settled by immigrant Bengali Muslim peasants in the decades before Partition, and independence.

With each successive group of immigrants, and with restrictions imposed barring their indiscriminate spread, the quality of land they found to settle themselves on, became progressively degraded. Many were left to settle on marshy wastelands and the shifting sandbars of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries called chars or chaporis in the vast floodplains of the valley. This is where a substantial percentage of their descendents still live after nearly a century. At the mercy of annual floods, shifting of the chars regularly and incessant erosion of their lands by the Brahmaputra and its tributaries, a large percentage of the Muslim population of immigrant origin in these districts is rendered homeless regularly. To eke out a living, they often migrate to the towns and cities as construction labourers, vegetable vendors or rickshaw pullers, living in ghettoized shanty towns, raising the spectre of illegal Bangladeshis in minds of a hostile urban elite with little sympathy or insight into realities of life about the areas they have migrated from.

Table 2

Population in Percentage as per Religion and Language in Districts of Assam with Substantial Muslim Population as per Census of India 2001

Religion

Language

Decadal Growth Rate

Population Density per SqKm

Muslim

Hindu

Assamese

Bengali

Assam

30.92

64.89

48.80

27.54

18.92

397

Dhubri

74.29

24.73

70.07

24.15

22.97

941

Goalpara

53.71

38.21

46.25

32.78

23.03

451

Barpeta

59.36

40.19

47.00

44.67

19.62

521

Marigaon

47.58

52.21

66.37

28.21

21.35

500

Nagaon

50.99

47.79

60.22

31.23

22.26

583

Karimganj

52.30

46.69

00.42

85.84

21.87

557

Hailakandi

57.99

41.11

00.26

83.43

20.89

409

Cachar

36.13

67.37

00.63

74.63

18.89

382

Bongaigaon

38.52

59.17

42.61

38.78

22.09

355

Darrang

35.54

57.73

39.15

30.76

22.18

411

Thus, by the time of India’s Partition and independence, there was a substantial Bengali Muslim population of immigrant origin noticeably concentrated in areas of Nagaon, Kamrup and Goalpara districts. Owing to their socio-economic condition and cultural practices, it is entirely believable that their population growth rate have remained substantially higher and what is reflected in the decadal growth rate of Muslim population in these districts, or the ones curved out of them later, their numbers need not necessarily be owed to continuous illegal immigration from Bangladesh.

There is another compelling reason to view with scepticism the claim of illegal immigrants ‘hiding’ among their co-religionists in the Muslim majority districts in Assam as even at the time of independence, population density in these districts were considerably higher making competition for land and the meagre opportunities of livelihood inevitably more intense. Today, conflict and litigation among immigrants over land is rampant. Why would they encourage, let alone facilitate, continuous illegal immigration that would put their own economic survival at peril?

The concentration of Muslims in the areas where the Bengali Muslim immigrants have traditionally settled, underscores the reality that they are mostly likely to be the descendants of those immigrants, and hence legitimate Indian citizens, and not illegal immigrants who have allegedly continued to arrive till now. This will be further evident if we look at the percentage of Assamese language speakers in these areas as revealed by the census data as cited in Table 2.

At the time of Partition, a substantial Bengali Muslim immigrant population chose to stay back in Assam as Indian citizens. Having decided their future, there was a conscious effort on their part to progressively assimilate into the culture and soil of their adopted home, beginning with adopting the Assamese language, the primary marker. Over successive generations, having been educated in Assamese-medium schools, most have genuinely adopted Assamese as their language and this is reflected in the census data. For instance, Dhubri with a Muslim population of 74.29% has 70.07% Assamese speakers. This is in stark contrast to the Barak valley districts like Karimganj and Hailakandi where Bengali has remained the predominant linguistic identity among both Hindus and Muslims. During the same period, many native tribal communities which once used to enumerate as ‘Assamese’ in successive censuses took to distinguish their ethnic and linguistic identity apart from the Assamese and started enumerating themselves as per their mother tongue.

It is thus simplistic to assume that rampant illegal Bangladeshi immigration continues even today by taking note of census figures selectively without having the intimate insights into the complex historical processes at work leading to the demographic transformation that is underway.

*

Immigrants and natives in Assam have lived in close proximity for over a century and even though there would be occasional friction, even over land, these would usually be local and rarely spread out to become ethnic or communal bloodbath unless fuelled by design, using certain diabolic political narratives pitting natives against immigrants and perpetrated as premeditated acts of violence.

Much before ‘illegal Bangladeshi immigrants’ were conjured up as the diabolic ‘other’ conspiring to ‘overwhelm the natives’, it was the Bengali Hindu immigrants in Assam who faced the hostility of the native Assamese. The conflict wasn’t over land but the perception, real or imagined, that the Bengali Hindu middle class conspired to retain their hegemony over the native Assamese by keeping the nascent Assamese middle class deprived of the opportunities in government jobs and economic benefits that would have otherwise been the entitlements of natives. The worst spate of Bengali-Assamese violence erupted in 1960 and regardless of whatever rhetoric it may have been couched in, it was a result of mobilisation around a narrative constructed by the Assamese middle class.

It was also the Assamese middle-class elite which dominated Assam’s politics for nearly three decades after independence, reaping the benefits and privileges that naturally came with it. But that began to change towards the 1970s, as apparent from the political instability that gripped successive governments in Dispur. An alternative was perhaps beginning to emerge which was left-of-centre and to which a large section of the state’s tribal natives and immigrants of East Bengal origin, the latest entrants to the ‘Axomiya’ fold, now began to align themselves. (I use the native word ‘Axomiya’ to refer to the those whose mother tongue is the Assamese language.) It was the left which won the first Guwahati Municipal Corporation elections in 1974, setting off alarm bells. It wasn’t long after when the signs of what became the Assam Movement began to emerge. Very few would remember that the movement began as a mobilisation against not ‘illegal immigrants’ from Bangladesh but against ‘outsiders’. Even more surprisingly, in its initial days, the All Assam Students Union (henceforth AASU) and the state administration seemed to be in fine coordination supporting each other in evicting illegal encroachers. Two of the movement’s earliest victims were not illegal immigrants but a pair of Bodo brothers who were gunned down by the police while trying to flee a mob led by the local AASU unit which came to ‘evict’ them from Phulung Chapori in North Guwahati, not far from where IIT Guwahati has come up, ironically, as fulfilment of one of the demands of the Assam Accord that brought the Assam Agitation to a closure in 1985.

The Assam Movement

It was, however, soon apparent to the ideologues and political masterminds behind the movement that targeting any native tribals was likely to boomerang, while targeting of immigrant communities who have a large population outside Assam and wielded substantial political clout in Delhi, was likely to yield unpredictable challenges. It was then that the Assam Movement clearly transformed into a movement against the ‘illegal Bangladeshi immigrants’ who were poised to reduce the natives to a minority within 20 years, as the rhetoric claimed.

In perhaps the most incisive analysis of the Assam Movement, Prof. Monirul Hussain in his seminal work, The Assam Movement: Class, Ideology, Identity (1994) has convincingly explained that while the expulsion of illegal Bangldeshi immigrants was the ostensible ‘visible’ motive of the movement, its real covert motive was to polarize the constituents of the new political alignment that was emerging as an alternative to the ones which represented the Assamese middle-class elite.

This was progressively accomplished effectively by first creating a powerful narrative which demonised  ‘Bangladeshi immigrants’ by conjuring them up as being part of a diabolic design to reduce the native Assamese to a minority, and then dispossessing them of their rights and property. It was cleverly alluded to that the community of immigrant Muslims of East Bengal origin who had by now been living in Assam legitimately for decades, and were certainly not illegal immigrants, was colluding with their co-religionists from across the border in furthering this nefarious design. A section of the vernacular media, representing and owned by the same Assamese middle class elite, played an immensely partisan role in strengthening and spreading this flawed perception, playing to the gallery.

Not everyone was convinced, but those who raised inconvenient questions were sought to be stifled by violence. The myth of how ‘democratic’ the movement was would be swiftly dispelled by the sheer number of violent incidents that mark the period of the Assam Agitation from 1979 to 1985. One of the most visible and horrific incidents precipitated by this narrative of demonising immigrants was the Nellie massacre of 18 February 1983 in the undivided Nagaon district. More than 2,000 Muslims of immigrant origin were massacred to death, most of them women and children. Even though the massacre was sought to be passed off as a spontaneous act of violence by the exasperated native Tiwa community, that they were cunningly instigated and it was a premeditated act is beyond reasonable doubt. None came to be indicted for the horrific act.

India Today’s cover on the Nellie massacre

Thus, a seemingly irreparable breach in communal relations between natives and immigrants opened up, making it nearly impossible to reach an agreement on anything related to ‘illegal immigration’. The immigrant Muslim community came to perceive any move to do so with suspicion and as attempts to strip them of citizenship and rights. The alternative political alignment that was emerging was forever obliterated. The covert goal of the Assam Agitation was achieved. The new political formation that swept into power as a result of the Assam Accord with a groundswell of support represented the same old Assamese middle-class elite and the cabinet that was formed was even less representative of the various constituent communities of the composite Assamese identity. It would disappoint Assam’s electorate within just a decade and a half, paving the way for the old Congress to return to power for three successive terms, the latest of which is still unfolding.

*

The recent violence in Kokrajhar needs to be seen in the light of such history. Perceived as ‘Bangladeshis’, Muslims of immigrant origin find little solidarity, let alone anyone to defend them.

To understand the recent violence that saw Bodos pitted against Bengali speakers, it would be pertinent to point out that the Adivasis have faced similar ethnic violence in Kokrajhar since the 1990s. They weren’t illegal Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh but descendents of those exiled by the British for the uprising in 1855 that history refers to as the Santhal Rebellion. Neither did they rapaciously usurp land on which the Bodos had claims nor were their numbers growing so fast so as to pose a threat to the numerical significance of the Bodos. Why, then, were they victims of repeated spates of ethnic violence, because of which some 32,613 families are living in relief camps for 20 years now? Wouldn’t it then be reasonable to look for the roots of conflict elsewhere and not within the simplistic explanation of ‘illegal immigrants versus natives’ sought to be perpetuated by the political dispensations whose designs are served by such a narrative?

Remains of a house burnt by rioters in Kokrajhar. Photo credit: Press Trust of India.

It has already been explained earlier how there is a constant stream of landless migrants, Muslims from char areas, to towns and cities to eke out a living. It wouldn’t be surprising to find a sizable percentage of such internally displaced persons encroaching on community land, reserved forests etc. But they are not alone in this. For instance, many Assamese Hindus displaced by constant erosion in the Palashbari area just west of Guwahati relocated to Rani nearby, a ‘tribal belt’ and settled on forest land. The point that needs to be underscored is that no widespread and meticulous cadastral surveys have been carried out expressly to assess, first, the scale of ‘native’ land being usurped by illegal immigrants and, second, what is the scale of ‘native’ land passing on to the hands of ‘immigrants’ by legitimate transfers to claim, with any certainty, as to how and in what scale natives are being dispossessed of their land.

It would thus be reasonable to carefully examine the claim that the violence was a result of the ‘illegal Bangladeshi immigrants’ rapaciously encroaching upon land belonging to the native communities, inevitably inviting spontaneous retaliation by exasperated natives.

In Kokrajhar the decadal growth rate of population between 1991-01 and 2001-11 have just been 14.49% and 5.19% respectively. Its population density stood at 266 and 280 for the same periods, among the lowest in Assam. It would be hard to accept from these figures that any cataclysmic demographic pressure on land has evolved at all.

It would also be important to remember that the fairly long proximity to each other have enabled immigrants and natives in Assam to evolve strategies for interaction and coexistence, even amidst occasional friction; any breach in their communal relations is rarely spontaneous.

Some are seeing the Kokrakhar violence as part of an attempt to revive the Bodo movement. Embedded in a narrative of victimhood, the idea perhaps is to ward-off growing challenges to the political base of a narrow section of the Bodo political elite. The consequent rallying of political forces along ethnic lines is what exactly was intended to be achieved. Speculation is also rife that this was abetted by elements inimical to Assam’s Chief Minister Shri Tarun Gogoi from within his own party in order to subvert him by creating an impression that he is losing his grip on the law and order situation of the state.

As per the Census of India 2001, Hindus constituted 65.60%, Muslims 20.36% and Christians 13.72% of Kokrajhar’s population. A large number of the Bodos would be Hindus, but some would be Christians too. The Adivasis would be overwhelmingly Christian and the Muslims would be of immigrant origin. The data on language from the Census further reveals that Bodos constituted 32.37%, Bengalis 21.06%, Assamese 20.28% and Santhalis 16.70% of Kokrajhar’s population, if we look at the ethnic break up linguistically. In 2001, there certainly aren’t any alarming indicators of natives about to be marginalised by illegal immigrants, and certainly not by illegal ‘Bengali Muslim’ immigrants from Bangladesh. The decadal growth rate of Kokrajhar between 2001 and 2011 has been among the lowest, at just 5.19%. This low population growth is also substantiated by the increase in population density by just 5.26%, from 266 to 280 persons per square kilometre. Thus, between 2001 and 2011 there couldn’t have been any alarming change in demography of the district. To cut a long story short, it appears extremely unlikely that rapacious ‘invasion’ of illegal immigrants could be a reason for widespread violent native-immigrant conflict here. We have to look for the real reasons elsewhere.

*

In the period since the formation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and its first elections on 13 May 2005, its political landscape has been overwhelmingly dominated by the Bodo political formation led by Hagrama Mohilary and his Bodoland People’s Front (henceforth BPF) [formerly the Bodoland People’s Progressive Front (Hagrama)]. In the 2006 elections to the 12th Assam Legislative Assembly, Mohilary’s BPF won in 11 of the 12 constituencies within the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District area and lent critical support to the Congress to enable it to form government for the second consecutive term, bagging two cabinet positions in the bargain. In the 2010 BTC elections, Mohilary succeeded to retain the predominance of his political formation. But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t constant challenges, particularly from all the other factions of Bodo polity he sought to marginalise, the rivalry on occasions leading to violence and bloodshed as well.

Bodo leader Hagrama Mohilary and Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi addressing a rally in Guwahati in 2008. Photo credit: assamtimes.com

Those who follow developments in Bodo politics would be intimately aware of how brutal and bloody factional rivalries have been with many noted Bodo moderate leaders being wiped out over the years in fratricidal wars, be it between the erstwhile Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) [which Mohilary headed before signing a peace accord which brought him into democratic politics] and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) or later, between BPF and the BPPF and their respective allied formations. Prolongued insurgency, availability of illegal sophisticated weapons and impunity have progressively lowered the threshold for armed violence in these areas. Violence has become deeply embedded in the politics of the region and it need not at all be between immigrants and natives or between Bodos and non-Bodos.

Image from Hagrama Mohilary’s Facebook page

With a significant non-Bodo electorate in BTC areas, the jockeying for greater influence by Bodo political factions saw a revival, initially as rhetoric, the demand for a separate Bodoland in the run up to the 2011 elections to the Assam Legislative Assembly. With anti-incumbency and other factors expected to erode some of Congress’ strength in numbers of seats won, Mohilary expected to have a more influential role in Dispur.

A Hagrama Molihary-led rally in Delhi in 2010 demanding a separate Bodoland state

As it turned out, surprising all predictions, the Congress won the elections with a landslide majority to form government in Assam for the third successive term. Any need for support from Mohilary was rendered irrelevant. Gogoi wisely continued with the alliance, though the BPF’s share in the cabinet portfolio was reduced to just one. With internal BTC elections as well as Assembly elections not around the corner for years to come, not only Mohilary but also others who hoped their political fortunes to improve were inevitably feeling restive. A progressive incitement of the violence may just have been part of a strategy to attempt to precipitate a political situation that, it was hoped, would help change the status quo. It will need careful probing of the situation of the months preceding the violence to have a clearer understanding of the way it was sought to be unfolded.

The most immediate instigation was the spate of attacks carried out against the Muslim community from around June 2012. Resentment against ex-militants was already brewing for some time because of rampant extortion and even kidnappings for ransom in the district and there have been allegations against the state administration for turning a blind eye. The select assassinations of immigrant Muslim slowly ratcheted up the tension. On 6 July 2012 unidentified assailants opened fire in a Muslim village, killing two and injuring three. Again on 19 July, two former office bearers of the All Assam Minorities Students Union (AAMSU) were fired upon and critically injured. On 20 July, the first day of the month of Ramzan, four former BLT militants riding on two bikes through a Muslim village called Joypore, on the outskirts of Kokrajhar, stumbled on to a crowd of Muslims congregating for namaz in the evening. Fearing that the crowd was about to attack, the four Bodo youths allegedly fired in the air with their automatic weapons to make good their escape. Already jittery by the spate of recent attacks, the Muslim villagers assumed this to be an attack and swarmed the youths and lynched them. By the time police arrived, they were all dead.

The next day, the bodies of the four Bodo youths, who were reported to be former BLT militants, were taken in a procession through Kokrajhar for cremation. All the local satellite news channels incessantly broadcasted the visuals. Was anything more needed to rouse the Bodos against Muslims in Kokrahar?

This has a chilling parallel to the bodies of the victims of the Godhra carnage being allowed to be brought back to Ahmedabad and paraded, that set the ground for the horrific 2002 Gujarat riots against Muslims. Retaliatory attacks against Muslims began that very night and at least four were gunned down. It didn’t take long from there for the situation to escalate. Precious time was lost in bringing the army to control the situation, as Ministry of Defence dithered over ‘procedural’ issues.

As rumours and violence spread, lakhs of Bodos and Muslims alike fled their villages and relocated in make-shift relief camps in schools and public buildings. Time was ripe for leaders of all hues to parachute in and start fishing in troubled waters by offering their own ‘explosive’ version of events that suited their political interests. What was undoubtedly a series of localised events, inextricably intertwined with local political undercurrents, thus became a ‘national security’ issue, thanks to the like of Lal Krishna Advani of the BJP, who turned it into an existential crisis for natives in the face of a relentless onslaught of Bangladeshis. And thanks largely to these flawed narratives of competitive victimhood, not only Assamese but anyone perceived to be from the North East are now facing violence directed against them in other parts of India.

*

In the cacophonous allegations and counter allegations that followed, it is being completely overlooked that the proliferation and availability of alarming stockpiles of small arms and light weapons across Assam have made precipitating crises like Kokrajhar immensely easy and has imperilled not only the lives of its people, but also the very political stability of the state.

That the Tarun Gogoi government and administration failed to anticipate the conflict brewing in Kokrajhar, and that once it began, failed to act decisively to quickly stamp it out, is representative of a complacency that could have been induced by a feeling of invulnerability bred by being in power for more than a decade. As it would be utopian to believe that political entities will abrogate violence as a means to accomplish what they can’t by democratic means, it is be important to at least make it as difficult for them to precipitate such situations. A decisive deterrent would be to actually make sure that such acts of violence do not go unpunished, dispelling any impression of impunity.

As for the people themselves, it would be worthwhile for them to discard communal and ethnic prejudices which are essential for harmonious co-existence. Assam never was a religiously or ethnically homogeneous entity and never will be.

(Nilim Dutta is executive director of the Strategic Research and Analysis Organisation, Guwahati.)

93 Comments
  1. August 16, 2012 11:47 AM

    Should we believe all these are true?

  2. palash motaid permalink
    August 16, 2012 11:56 AM

    An honest writing Mr Dutta. It takes a lot courage to write such a Articles in India where common masses do not want to heed anything other than their common belief. I am from Brahmanbaria, a district town of eastern bangladesh bordering Agartala of Tripura. It seems in India it is already established myth about ” millions of illegal Bangladeshis in India ” by the media and Bjp sympathisers. In my whole life, I have never seen any of my muslim relative have settled in india or the relative of my friends have immigrated there. But during the tough times(before1971) some of our hindu brothers have immigrated to india to save their lives, even though, its continuing till today in small numbers but mostly they are economic migrants.

    • sayeed ahmed permalink
      August 17, 2012 4:13 PM

      Hates off to you. To be honest from last few days I had actually started to think that there is no good Assamese people left in this world. But you made me change my stand. My great grandfathers migrated to Assam from erstwhile united Bengal in 1910s(i guess Bengal got united in 1911 after that partition in 1905) but still i have to go through those abuses almost every time I am with my childhood friends though we all graduated from good colleges and universities…Thanks again for writing such a wonderful article

  3. pranab bora permalink
    August 16, 2012 3:06 PM

    Article seems to ignore certain facts: for example, being on the border with bangladesh hasn’t made meghalaya into a haven for bangladeshis. if one travels meghalaya one will know that they have strict land laws–assam does not. in shillong, not to even mention the other areas in the other districts, you cannot buy land except in the european ward. in assam you can buy land anywhere–even settle illegally in the tribal belts thanks to corrupt officials who connive. so meghalaya’s leaders have been farsighted, unlike assam’s. also given the terrain they come from bangladeshis would be more at home int he plains, not the hills of meghalaya. the same situation holds for nagaland–they are there in portions of dimapur but not kohima or peren.

    • August 16, 2012 5:51 PM

      No, I am not ignorant of land laws in Meghalaya. The point is, illegal Bangladeshi immigrants are accused of rampant ‘encroachments’ and if that indeed is the truth, would they be respectful of any land laws? Immigrants from erstwhile East Bengal traditionally settled along certain areas, and the reason for the distribution of Muslims are because of those historic factors. What became border districts became so only in 1947. It is fallacious to assume that illegal immigrants would continue to be invited with open arms in districts that are already beyond saturation in availability of land.

      • Apoorv permalink
        August 16, 2012 11:57 PM

        Mr Nilim Dutta ,
        I don’t care about your credentials of an analyst nor do I care about the validity of the facts you presented but Simple Logical reasoning .. and man .. you’ve thought hard to defy that COMPLETELY .
        You infer – “It would be pertinent to point out right that this high population growth rate in Assam has declined since 1971 and has remained lower than that of India (Table 1), categorically refuting assumptions of continuing illegal immigration from Bangladesh”
        Population growth rate in assam has declined , lower than that of India . How on earth does it “categorically refute” the “assumption” that there is no immigration ! And the you cite regions which have thinner muslim population to support your idiotic reasoning . Are you aware there is something on earth called – SENSE ?

        Confuse people by throwing stats on their faces and then sneak away taking the credit of thinking out of the box and speaking the truth !
        This article is nothing but a Rakhi Sawant-esque style of attracting attention !

      • Prince permalink
        August 18, 2012 2:00 PM

        how can you ever track illegal immigrants?? they cant be counted in the census.. cos they are illegal if they have been counted and still the govt doesnt do anything about it then whos fault is it..

    • August 18, 2012 12:40 PM

      MY FRIEND THIS LAND LAW IS TO PROTECT THEIS CULTURE WHICH MAY GET DISTURBED BY MIGRATION OF OTHER CULTURE…..WHER AS IN ASSAM WE R HERE BEFORE UR FORE FATHER CAME TO ASSAM AS 200 HUNDRED YEARS BEFORE AHOM CAME TO ASSAM MUSLIMS HAVE ALREADY ENTERED ASSAM BUT THEY WERE NOT OF RULLING CLASS………THANK U

      • archisman permalink
        August 19, 2012 3:50 PM

        Prince,
        if your argument is true then you cannot use census data to claim that illegal immigration was high, rather you have to say that you have no data on illegal immigration; in which case it could be actually very low and falsely claimed as high for political gains

  4. iBodo permalink
    August 16, 2012 3:22 PM

    If everything you wrote in this very very long article is correct, give me a logical reasoning as to why there are estimated 4 lakhs inmates in refugee camps, and as mentioned by the so called “minority” MP from Dhubri, most of them are muslims.

    The 2011 GoI census says that there are 2.3 lakhs muslims in BTAD. From where has the rest of the muslims came??

    Also, the same MP is saying that the violence is between Bodos and non-Bodos, but in the relief camps, Rajbongshis, Rabhas, Adivasis are living with Bodos, in the same camp, while the other camp have only minorities??

    Since you went to history of the region, why you have not mentioned the AAMSU bandh of May/June 2012, for protest against Bodoland statehood was raised. When a bike and a car (hailing from Bhutan) were burnt?

    Why you are giving the violence a communal colour, while it is simply a fight between the indigenous people of India and foreigners?

    • August 16, 2012 5:36 PM

      I wouldn’t want to comment on exactly how many people from the Muslim community are in relief camps unless it is from government source. A ‘mention’ by any MP may not be the most reliable source to begin a debate on.

      The COI 2011 figures on religious distribution of population has not yet been published to the best of my knowledge. The same has been confirmed to me by the RGI, Delhi as well the Director of Census, Assam. But I can provide estimated figures from the COI 2001, even down to Tehsil levels. It must be noted that Muslims from areas outside BTAD, for instance from Bongaigaon too may have fled in panic and taken shelter in relief camps in neighbouring district.

      This spate of violence may have been specifically between Muslims and Bodos, but why are thousands of Adivasis still living in relief camps for nearly a couple of decades now. particularly in Kokrajhar? Have Adivasis and Bodos been living together in the Joypore relief camp for the past more than a decade? Isn’t ethnic clash between Bodos and non-Bodos, as a result of attacks by armed Bodo militia (not the entire Bodo community, let me clarify), an indisputable part of the politics that has evolved over the last few decades there?

      The failure to mention the AAMSU bandh which also wasn’t peaceful is an oversight. But that just goes on to reaffirm my conclusion that it is between Bodos and non-Bodos, AAMSU being one of the constituents of the non-Bodo political formation there. Or are you suggesting that AAMSU is Bangladeshi?

      I have in fact explained why this is not a Hindu-Muslim communal conflict but a rather complex one where immigrant-native as well as Bodo-non Bodo ethnic issues are inextricably intertwined. Into that complex narrative is woven further unsubstantiated ones of Bangladeshi versus natives.

    • bilal permalink
      August 16, 2012 5:40 PM

      ibodo i see unlike the article above u haven’t quoted any reliable sources, just some MP. Give some well reasoned argument backed by historical perspective. Your reasons seems more like an empty rhetoric to me.

    • Bonojit permalink
      August 16, 2012 5:42 PM

      @IBodo: To best of my knowledge, religion-wise census figures for 2011 is not yet available and is being still tabulated. So on what basis are you claiming that “The 2011 GoI census says that there are 2.3 lakhs muslims in BTAD.” It would be good if you can share your source for the same.

    • August 16, 2012 11:31 PM

      @ iBodo-> The Muslim of Assam are the son of soil of Assam. they came from some char(Island) of Brahmaputra river to BTAD. They lost their land for the current of river water flow and became landless.As a result of losing their home and farming land,they choose lowest level work and settle to BTAD. So there is no confutation that they are Bangladeshi but aborigine Miah (Muslim) people of Assam. Only some hypocrite selfish learned people who want to establish a new thought that they are illegal immigrant of Assam that is very pathetic to hear from any learned people.
      Now, i am asking a question that who are the aborigine people of Assam?
      For your kind information , the Mongoloid people of Assam were migrated from Sino-Tibet. Originally,owner of the land of Assam were Aryan-Dravidian people.

      • ben permalink
        August 17, 2012 12:21 PM

        please do tell from which source are you qouting your fantastic last line from?

      • August 18, 2012 1:37 PM

        I must categorically state that Nripati Sharma Bangali’s claims are historically inaccurate and to say the least, figment of imagination.

  5. Arif Ahmed permalink
    August 16, 2012 4:09 PM

    Thanks Mr. Nilim Dutta to speak the truth.We all know the Hindu brothers are more and more advanced in education and research in different fields of knowledge in India compared to their Muslim brothers in percentage.To speak the truth in the field of history and development of various societies in India a lot of them have correct knowledge of history.But rarely a few of them speak the truth.If a few hundreds of them would have become outspoken like the pious soul,Mr. Nilim Dutta India would have seen least communal violence from the start of its getting freedom and leap in developments in various fields:and probably more nearer to china in development.Even most being Hindus,the plights of the adivasis, shathal, etc communities are neglected by the mainstream media and the innumerable social scholars in india.The plights of tea planters tribes in Assam,who really constitute roughly 30% of Assam population ,was rarely focused by the media,which is surely need UN attention.We wish more courageous writings from You.You are really an intellect-an intellectual gets such an world-view of life and truth that he feels pains not speaking or informing the truth/he has no fear of criticism or even threat of life..Another thing I want to remind you that [I know which is known to you] the chauvinistic people in Assam try to hide the division of the great Assam in seven parts,When they represent their statistics they knowing mass up the statistics of the great Assam with the today’s small assam to give their desired estimate..

  6. roshan ramakrishnan permalink
    August 16, 2012 6:28 PM

    Electoral Fraud and Strategic Electoral Reform
    Parashar Kulkarni
    Politics
    New York University
    parashar dot kulkarni@nyu dot edu

    READ THIS THIS WILL GIVE AN IDEA ABOUT BANGLADESHI ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.
    NILIM DUTTA IS A BIG FRAUD, AGAIN TALKIN OF THE DATA……2011 CENSUS FIGURES ARE NOT YET AVAILABLE.

    CENSUS FIGURES R OFTEN UNDERPLAYED
    there is lllegal immigration in assam which is a SERIOUS THREAT, BARAK VALLEY is a key link to other north eastern states, once this is lost defence of NE IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE.

    bengali rajbongshis r being SELFISH,they should assimilate with local; Assamese not their BANGLADESHI BRETHEN, LIKE YOU DO MR.NILIM DUTTA, later thery will target the rajbongshis too like they attacked in the present situation.

    • August 16, 2012 8:12 PM

      Laughable claims, considering there is no data worth its name but sweeping claims of electoral fraud. Whereas, I have quoted incontrovertible Census of India figures to show which claims about the illegal immigration from Bangladesh are untenable. The abusive language is abundant proof of how those who want to perpetuate the myth tries to shout down anyone who comes up with hard questions or categorical dissenting opinions based on facts. Well, people have enough sense to separate fiction from facts for themselves. Most don’t share your hallucinations.

      • nayan permalink
        August 18, 2012 4:05 PM

        okie guess i assumed ur allegations correct,but first tell me why during the era of hiteswar saikia and former lt.gov general s.k sinha had informed the centre of the massive influx of illegal bangladeshis towards resulting a change in the demographic,or are you a immigrant supporter disguise in the name of NILIM DUTTA

  7. R. Deka permalink
    August 16, 2012 6:32 PM

    Mr. Nilim Dutta deserves kudos for boldly writing the facts and for not being swayed by the pro-hindutva version of events. The Bodo thugs started this carnage, but once in the firing line, their community wants solidarity from all around conveniently forgetting that they had terrorized Assam and its people for almost two decades and alienated themselves from everybody irrespective of religious or communal lines. One missing aspect of this report was the role played in this mess by one Assamese politician, a Brahmin, who was aiming for the CM’s chair and his infamous news channel responsible for fanning the flames of communal hatred.

  8. Ahom permalink
    August 16, 2012 9:17 PM

    A typical pseudo secular outsider view. The author seems to love cherry picking certain statistics to make his case. First of all there is not much difference between the growth rate of tribals and bengali muslims. In fact the birth rate is higher among the tribals as polygamy is rampant. So this pretty much demolishes the author’s main idea that where ever the muslims growth has increased rapidly, it is because of “cultural practices” and not illegal immigration. Second he shows the growth of the whole population of Kokrajhar and concludes that because the growth is not much, there is no immigration. Why does he not point out the growth among the MUSLIM population of Kokrajhar which has rapidly increased. Dhubri is more then 75 percent muslims, less than 30-40 years back it was a slim HIndu majority district. The next fallacy is that because large percentage of muslims claim to speak Assamese, so they must be local. A Bangaldeshi who lands in Assam yesterday will claim to speak Assamese today if some one from the govt asks them. Do the census officials check whether they really do speak or just claim to do so? As an outsider you know nothing about all this. I do, I live here. In lower Assam whole villages of muslims have come up on forest land which was not there even 15 years back. Hundreds and hundreds of people on forest land because they cannot buy tribal land..If the Indian govt has turned a blind eye to the fact that the bengali muslims are chasing us out of our land do not expect us to sit still and do the same. We will fight back and fight viciously. You have seen nothing.

    • August 18, 2012 12:31 PM

      If Census figures are inconvenient than they are not credible? Than how are the figures you claim that Dhubri is 74% Muslim credible from the same Census? Isn’t there polygamy and high rate of fertility among the char Muslims? Your problem isn’t whether the population of immigrant origin is illegal or Bangladeshi, your problem is that this population is ‘Muslim’, so they can’t be ‘Assamese’ even by assimilation. As for your laughable remarks that I am an outsider, let me clarify that I am an Assamese who has grown up in Assam and have frequently been in all these areas since 1998, monitoring the situation on ground as to how the immigration issue has unfolded on ground. From chars in Dhubri to Bodo dominated areas in Baksa, Mushalpur, Nikasi etc etc I am familiar with all. So if you know so much and consider it such a serious problem, how much time have you spent gathering empitical evidence to support your claims? None. Because your claims are just that, rabid propaganda. It doesn’t bode well because such blind chauvinism has solved nothing but ensured greater and greater fragmentation of ethnic relations or even fissures in the same community. But people like you won’t ever learn because you know all, even without proof.

    • archisman permalink
      August 19, 2012 4:02 PM

      Ahom,
      regarding your last argument that illegal immigrants will falsely claim to govt officials that they are assamese people ( probably so as not to appear as illegal immigrant ?), my question is then should not they also have misreported their religion ? that would have suited their purpose better ,isnt it ? if your answer to that would be the officials could easily identify misreporting of religion, why cant they identify misreporting of language?

  9. sumang permalink
    August 16, 2012 9:26 PM

    A good view on hidden facts

  10. FALAKYAR ASKARI permalink
    August 16, 2012 9:37 PM

    Congratulations Mr. Nilim Dutta. This honest piece of writing has only made us proud.

  11. Ahmed permalink
    August 16, 2012 10:26 PM

    R Deka has rightly pointed out the role of the news channel..all said and done..who gains from such strife? Clashes takes place n post mortem begins.

  12. uddip permalink
    August 16, 2012 11:06 PM

    Problem is that the author has selected only those data from the census 2011 which supports his point. When mentioning decadal growth of Kokrajhar, the writer totally omitted the neighbouring district Dhubri which has the highest decadal growth among districts of Assam. It may seem unfair to bring Dhubri while talking of Kokrajhar, but it is definitely noteworthy not to overlook. The biggest fear that I have is that everybody is saying half-truths (including the author of this article) and gaining their own mileage. I would like to urge reader to search census 2011 india in google, then download the spreadsheets and do your own research. The time to believe any intellectual is over.

    • August 17, 2012 12:47 AM

      I believe you have not even bothered to read. I have included two Tables with comparative data from the Census of India 2001 which amply underscores the points I make. For instance, between 1971 and 1991, the 20 years many claim as showing huge infiltration, Dhubri district had a growth rate of only 45.65% while that for Assam for the same period is 53.26% and for India as a whole is 54.41% (See Table 1) For your kind information, I am quoting this data from the Census of India 2011 Provisional Totals Assam paper 1 I (1), Page 34, Table 2 and downloadable from the website. Pity you didn’t do your homework well. And I still find no answers to why all the alleged illegal immigrants who had filled up Dhubri did not cross over to Kokrajhar and if they did, why did Kokrajhar show a mere 5.19% growth rate? Irresponsibly citing population growth rate without having the slightest understanding of the real factors that may have contributed to the higher growth rate has been the fashion throughout to dole out sweeping opinions. Rest assured that I have not kept myself satisfied merely looking at tables and working out the statistics, the opinion is tempered by 14 years of being on the ground monitoring how the problem has unfolded. And, I am familiar with data down to tehsil levels. I heartily endorse the appeal to everyone to do their own research. Time we stopped subscribing to myths.

      • Ahom permalink
        August 17, 2012 3:23 AM

        You keep ignoring how the MUSLIM population of Kokrajhar has exploded. And you ignore of the MUSLIM population of Dhubri has exploded.Forget the growth of the general population. Your analysis would be funny if it was not so pathetically obvious what agenda you are pushing. Sorry Assam will never become a BEngali muslim majority state. ANy attempt to do that will be catastrophic.

  13. Rumi permalink
    August 16, 2012 11:15 PM

    Nilim Dutta.
    agreed that violence escalated in Kokrajhar due to long standing animosity and botheration nurtured among other community emanating from atrocious acts of the anti-social element specially of the renegade militant groups of the Bodo community…. but how do you justify that those illegal immigrants making entries into the soil of Assam across the border as Muslims from char areas being displaced due to erosion etc…???do you have genuine antecedents of those char muslims??? see I am not against a particular community like the Assamese muslims known as goriyas who have been living in peaceful co-existence with rest of the community since long. and this Assamese muslim community has never posed any threat to the demography as ell as to Assamese culture. But the illegal immigrant muslims mushroomed in our soil and started occupying even the assembly seats. this time violence starts only in some parts of our state but some five – ten years hence you will see the impact….God knows whether we shall be living in Assam or not to conduct research on demography quoting some facts & figures….

    • August 17, 2012 12:49 AM

      Re-read what I have written and do some introspection. You shall find your answers.

  14. August 17, 2012 1:24 AM

    গোষ্ঠী সংঘৰ্ষৰ এক আলোকপাত
    =========================

    বি টি এ ডিত যি সংঘৰ্ষৰ সৃষ্ঠি হ’ল ইয়াৰ বাবে কোন দাষী বুলি যদি প্রশ্ন উদ্ভব হয় তেনেহ’লে সহজে উত্তৰ দিয়াটো কঠিন । সমাধানৰ বাবে লাগিব নিৰপেক্ষ ৰাজনৈতিক স্বাৰ্থ, উদাৰতা আৰু বিশ্লেষণ কৰিব পৰা বিচক্ষনতাৰ । স্হায়ী শান্তিৰ বাবে আমি সকলো সত্যকে স্বীকাৰ কৰিব পাৰিব লাগিব । বড়োভূমিৰ ভূমিপুত্র তথা অবড়ো সকলোৰে প্রতিটো বিষয় গুৰুত্ব সহকৰে সকলোৱে গ্রহণ কৰিব লাগিব । উমি উমি জ্বলি থাকিলে ভবিষ্যতে শান্তি ঘুৰি অহাটো আৰু কঠিন ।

    পৃথক ৰাজ্য গঠন=বড়োভূমিত ৰাজনৈতিক পাকচক্রৰ বলি হৈছে সাধাৰণ নাগৰিক । স্বায়ত্ত পৰিষদৰ ৰাজনৈতিক শান্তিপূৰ্ণ দীৰ্ঘম্যাদী শাসনৰ বাবে ৰাজনৈতিক দল তথা অবড়োসকল শংকিত হোৱাৰ থল আছে । দীৰ্ঘম্যাদী শান্তিপূৰ্ণ শাসনৰ ফলত পৃথক ৰাজ্য গঠনৰ দিশত আগবঢ়াটো প্রকট হৈ পৰে । বিভিন্ন বড়ো সংগঠনৰ ইয়াৰ বাবে বহিঃপ্রকাশ দেখা গৈছে ।য’ত অবড়ো সকল এতিয়াওঁ (বহু ক্ষেত্রত) বঞ্চিত হৈ আছে আৰু ৰাজনৈতিক আন্ত-গাঠণি পৰিবৰ্তন হ’লে মুণাফালোভী ৰাজনৈতিক দলৰ ক্ষতি হোৱাৰ আশংকা ।

    জাতিগত স্বাৰ্থ =বিকেন্দ্রীকৰনে উন্নতি আনে যদি বড়োভূমিত ক্ষমতা বাঘজৰী কোনো দক্ষ ৰাজনৈতিক পৰিপক্ক ব্যক্তিৰ হাতত নাই । ব্যক্তি কেন্দ্রীক তথা জাতিগত স্বাৰ্থ অধিক প্রকট হোৱাৰ বাবে বিভেদ সৃষ্টিয়ে মানসিক তথা আৰ্থিক দিশত অবড়ো সকলক আঘাত হানিছে । ৰাজনীতিত অবড়োসকল প্রত্যক্ষ যোগদানৰ পৰা বিৰত থাকিব লগাৰ বাবে গণতান্ত্রিক দেশ নাগৰিক হিচাবে নিজস্ব অধিকাৰ খৰ্ব হৈছে ।

    চৰকাৰী অবহেলা=অবড়ো অধ্যুষিত অঞ্চল স্বায়ত্ত পৰিষদৰ গণ্ডীৰ ভিতৰত বিবেচনা বিহীনভাবে অন্তৰ্ভূক্ত কৰিলে ঠিকেই কিন্তু বিভিন্ন দল-সংগঠনৰ বহু আন্দোলনৰ পিছতো চৰকাৰী পক্ষ তথা পৰিষদৰ অবহেলা উলাই কৰিব নোৱাৰি । য’ত স্বাধীন নাগৰিক হিচাবে নিজৰ পছন্দৰ কোনো স্হায়িত্ব নাই ।ভুমিনীতি , কৰ নীতি একপক্ষীয় হোৱাৰ বাবেওঁ আক্রোশৰ বলি হব লগা হৈছে ।

    অবড়ো সংখ্যালঘু সংগঠনৰ প্রকোপ=অবড়ো সংগঠনত সংখ্যালঘু মুছলমানৰ সংখ্যা দিনক দিনে বাঢ়ি যোৱাৰ ফলত “আমছু”ৰ নেতৃত্বক ৰাজনীতিকৰনৰ প্রক্রিয়াই ভয়াবহ ৰূপ ল’লে আৰু লাহে লাহে “আমছু” -“আবছু”, “আমছু”-“বি ল টি “,”আমছু”-“হাগ্রামা” আদি সংঘাত সৃষ্টি হল । একেখন ঠাইলৈ “আক্রাছু”ই পৃঠক কমতাপুৰ দাবী কৰি আহিছে যদিও “আক্রাছু”ৰ লগত বড়োৰ আজিলৈকে চকুত পৰা ধৰণৰ কৰো সংঘাত হোৱা নাই ।

    অস্ত্রৰ প্রাধান্য= বড়োৰ কোনো গোটে এতিয়ালৈকে অস্ত্র সম্বৰণ কৰা নাই । যাৰ ফলত অপ্র্রয়োগ ইমানেই বাঢ়িছে যে এদিন কৃষ্ণৰ দ্বাৰকা ধংস যজ্ঞ ইয়াতেই হব । একপ্রকাৰ কবলৈ হলে অবড়োসকল অলপো সুৰক্ষিত নহয় । ইয়াৰ বাবে চৰকাৰী পক্ষ সম্পূৰ্ণ দায়ী ।

    সংগ্রাম=দীৰ্ঘম্যাদী অস্ত্বিত্বৰ যুজত বহু সংগ্রামীৰ প্র্রাণ আহুঁতিৰ পিছতহে বড়োসকলক সামান্যতম অধিকাৰ দিয়া হৈছে । এতিয়া লাহে-লাহে তেওঁলোকৰ অধিকাৰখিনি সামাজিক তথা ৰাজননৈতিকভাবে কাঢ়িবলৈ চেষ্টা কৰা হৈছে । দিনক দিনে তেওঁলোক সংখ্যালঘুত পৰিণত হৈছে, অস্ত্বিত্বৰ সংকটৰ যুজখন আকৌ মুৰ দাঙি উঠিবলৈ বাধ্য হৈছে । মনত ৰখা উচিত যে কাৰো অনুগ্রহত বড়োসকলে স্বায়ত্ত এলেকা পোৱা নাই বা কোনো ৰাজনৈতিক দলৰ উপহাৰ হিচাবে পোৱা নাই । তেজৰ বিনিময়তহে নিজৰ ঘৰখন পাইছে ।

    এতিয়া সমাধান সূত্র নিজেই বিচাৰ কৰক । কোন জগৰীয়া ।

  15. P.J.Mazumdar permalink
    August 17, 2012 2:35 AM

    Nilim Dutta,

    It is said that statistics can be the biggest lie, and you have proved this absolutely.

    You have quoted the data from the census very selectively in order to establish your nefarious claims. I do not know what your ulterior motive is, but it is surely not an honest one, otherwise you would not have presented such a hotch potch of half truths.

    The fact that your whole article is a lie is proved by the fact that you have not presented the most elementary data that would have been sought by anyone trying to represent the growth of muslims in assam, and that is the decadal growth of muslims! This is the first thing that you should have presented if you had any integrity, but you chose to conceal this. And instead focus on population growth as a whole for which there is another explanation that I will come to later.

    Anyway, I am presenting the astounding statistics of Muslim growth in Assam.

    The fact is, that in the period from 1971 to 2001, the muslim population grew unreasonably, showing a much higher growth rate than the rest of India, besides being higher than other religions. This also led to a surprising growth in the percentage of muslims in Assam.

    The pertinent figures are:
    Hindus 1951 – 72.1%,
    1971 -72.5%,
    1991 – 67.1%,
    2001 -64.9%

    Muslims 1951 – 24.9%,
    1971 – 24.6%,
    1991 – 28.4%,
    2001 -30.9%
    2011 – 33%(not published)

    During 1971-91 and 1991-2001 the average annual growth of Muslims in Assam was
    38.7 and 29.3, respectively.

    But during this period the growth of other religions was 21.8 and 13.9 only and also corresponding estimated average natural growth rate of Assam was only 19.6 and
    18.7.

    People like Mr. Nilim Dutta may still claim that it could be due to the ‘bengali muslim’ growth rate being higher, but this too is not supported, because average annual growth of Muslims in Bangladesh was 31.2 during 1974-1991 (when it was 38.7 in Assam) and in 1991-2001 the Muslim growth rate of Bangladesh was 18.6 (when it was 29.3 in Assam).

    The much higher growth rate shows that illegal migration must have played a very important role.

    And now we come to why there is a lower overall growth rate of Assam – it is because the Hindu growth rate has been very low, lower than that of the rest of the country. That is why, though the Muslims have shown such a huge growth (and even christians recorded a normal growth), Assam continues to show an average growth slightly lower than that of the country. Therefore by presenting the average growth of Assam without fractionating the growth of Muslims and Hindus separately within this, Mr. N. Dutta has committed an act of great deception in his article.

    To know the actual facts, I would suggest everyone to look up the very well researched and scientific papers of Dr. Bhupen Kr. Nath and Dr. Dilip C. Nath, available on the web.

    But even without any illegal migration, is not such a sudden increase of one part of a population threatening to the existence and identity of the rest of the population? Even the most bleeding heart intellectuals concede that they came after 1900s, while the assamese, bodos, rajbongshis, etc have been living here for thousands of years. Then if within 100 years we are uprooted and made a minority in this ancient homeland of ours, do we, the native people of assam, not have a right to protest?

    • August 17, 2012 10:20 AM

      What is so remarkable about a community’s growth of 10% in percentage of population in 6 decades where their rate of natural growth have remained high? For one who accuses me of being selective, can he also explain why the ‘Muslim’ majority districts are also ‘Assamese’ majority? Or the growth in percentage of the ST population which is not at all Muslim? And the discriminatory attitude shows when the issue doesn’t remain confined to illegal immigration but even those who are legally Indians are clearly being pointed to as a threat. Such rabid chauvinism kept Assam burning for decades and the harvest of folly shows. Keep looking for imaginary existential threats while the world moves on and leave us all irrelevant and actually in an existential crisis. By your logic, the natives should also be weary of all the Hindu Bengalis who migrated much later whereas the Assamese, Bodos etc have been here for centuries. Deport them to Bangladesh as well? Are we ever going to see some sense?

      • Pinak Chakraborty permalink
        August 18, 2012 12:13 AM

        Mr. Dutta,

        I am just wondering whether you would refute the data put forward by Mr Mazumdar above that during “1991-2001 the Muslim growth rate of Bangladesh was 18.6 % (when it was 29.3 % in Assam)” and that Hindu percentage of population steadily decreased from 72% in 1951 to 65% in 2001?

        Thanks,

      • Ahom permalink
        August 18, 2012 2:09 AM

        The community growth rate is remarkable if the same community is not growing so fast in any corner of India or even in Bangaldesh!! And what is this about Assamese speaking hence should be local nonsense, Recently settled Bengali muslims in Assam claim to speak Assamese when they cannot speak a complete sentence. Have you ever even spoken to a local Assamese about these things?

      • August 19, 2012 12:33 AM

        “where their rate of natural growth has remained high” – having anticipated this, I had already pointed out that this rate is much higher than that of the same community living side by side in Bangladesh. What is the explanation for this? (I must point out that I owe the data here to the papers by Dr. Bhupen Kr. Nath and Dr. Dilip C. Nath).

        The fact that Nilim Dutta did not present the data of decadal growth of muslims in an article on muslim growth, when this should have been the very first statistic to be presented, shows what a lie this article is.

        Regarding the second point, certainly I would feel the same if any community, whether it was bengali muslims, bengali hindus, britishers, eskimmos from antartica or whoever, were to come to Assam in such large numbers as to effectively take away our political power.

        Every country in the world has the strongest ties to its ancestral land, the land it has settled in for centuries. This is what causes toughest resistance through war when others try to establish political hegemony. This is also why all countries in the world, like the US or UK, have strong immigration laws which prevent outsiders from settling in their lands. Why doesnt any country in the world freely allow all to come and settle in their lands?

        When no community or nation allows others to gain political hegemony over them, why must the Assamese alone allow people from another community to rule over them and gain political superiority? If the same rate of ‘bengali muslim’ growth continues, they will be in majority (above 50%) in 2040. The ancestral people of this land – assamese, bodos, rabhas, etc. will then effectively lose political power. Are we then supposed to calmly accept this and lose all control over our ancient land, the land of our history and culture? This is not the historical land of the bangladeshis, they have their own lands. What strange philosophy is this that says the Assamese alone are chauvinistic when they try to protect their political rights in the land of their ancestors?

  16. August 17, 2012 2:38 AM

    Thanks for this insightful article. Great job.

  17. August 17, 2012 3:11 AM

    http://www.ijsrp.org/research_paper_may2012/ijsrp-may-2012-75.pdf

    Disclaimer: I did not read this paper thoroughly. Only went through the tables

    A quick glance at the tables does seem to point at what you probably should have considered. The religion specific data. However, this does not necessarily challenge your stance on the recent riots, though outside Kokrajhar, the scene is very different.

    Also, unrelated though, about the linguistic data about Goalpara, I think we should have a look at the older census data as well. I remember reading somewhere that in 1946, there were 251 bengali primary schools in Goalpara, but by 1951, they were in double digits.

    • August 17, 2012 10:21 AM

      I have gone through that paper and also aware of the flaws in the arguments, but it will need another post to deconstruct categorically.

  18. Imran permalink
    August 17, 2012 3:23 AM

    How informative. I didn’t realise that if you claim to be able to speak Assamese, you automatically become indigenous. I can speak a little French, so I must be from France.

    • August 17, 2012 10:25 AM

      I can sense the sarcasm. The point is not merely about being able to ‘speak’ Assamese, but actually assimilating into the composite Assamese identity. Even more important perhaps is the fact that their numbers reinforced the number of Assamese speakers as against Bengalis in the fractious identity politics of the state where language plays an instrumental role.

  19. Oinam James Singh permalink
    August 17, 2012 9:51 AM

    I am no researcher, and an outsider (Manipuri). I can write what my gut instincts tell me. I feel other than publishing census reports, the central government must deal with the border issue (I have often read of porous border, in past and at present(?)). Whoever have settled should be properly regularised and immediately some proper system must be put in place, as unlike Delhi or other other cities Assam is not economically well of enough to absorb migrants, temporary or permanent. Most riots I believe are related to economy ultimately.

  20. Tejas permalink
    August 17, 2012 10:02 AM

    I’ve read the article twice now. Your statistics are misleading in that you cannot make the conclusion that illegal immigration is a myth from the data that you quote. Help me understand how the declining growth rate of Assam ‘categorically refutes assumptions of continuing illegal immigration from Bangladesh’. Also what does the high growth rate Dhemaji and Karbi have anything to do with this discussion? It still does not refute that illegal immigration is taking place.

  21. Ankit permalink
    August 17, 2012 10:57 AM

    “It would be pertinent to point out right that this high population growth rate in Assam has declined since 1971 and has remained lower than that of India (Table 1), categorically refuting assumptions of continuing illegal immigration from Bangladesh” How does it CATERGORICALLY refute this assumption? It could be that the rate of growth of population in Assam was actually much lower that whole of India, and that illegal immigration actually did increase the population growth rate. I am quite sure that many states have had population growth rates smaller than that of India as a whole, so why couldn’t the growth rate in Assam minus illegal immigration be lower?

    This author needs lessons in Login 101.

    • August 18, 2012 4:46 PM

      When high decadal growth rate of population in Assam, higher than that of India, is the ‘evidence’ most often cited to substantiate ‘illegal immigration’ why isn’t the converse than true?

  22. August 17, 2012 11:03 AM

    My reply to Ahom:
    Muslims constituted just 20.36% of Kokrajhar’s population as per Census of India 2001. That, after a decadal growth rate of 14.49% between 1991-2001. From 2001-2011, Kokrajhar’s decadal growth rate further dropped to a mere 5.19%. So ‘Muslim population in Kokrajhar is exploding’ is nothing but a lie. As to Dhubri, its population is 74.29% Muslim but 70.07% Assamese by mother tongue speakers, as per census of India 2001. Your comment is just the kind of rabid prejudices which keeps this paranoia of the Assamese being overwhelmed by Bangladeshis. Since we have all been bestowed with a mind, time we started using it too.

    • Practical permalink
      August 17, 2012 4:55 PM

      Nilim, Good articulation but somehow does not feel totally unbiased – look at your article and comments – just a suggestion. Regarding statistics, the population of muslims as a percentage of population is constantly going up – what do you attribute this to ? Hindu bangladeshis moving to India or Bengali muslims from India moving back to Bangladesh. There is the third perspective but I really doubt you will ever get it.

      • Practical permalink
        August 17, 2012 4:58 PM

        I was referring to Bangaladesh and percentage of muslim population going up in Bangladesh

    • Pinak Chakraborty permalink
      August 18, 2012 12:29 AM

      Mr. Dutta,

      A little doubt perhaps you will help clarify – how is it determined that 70% of Muslims residing in Dhubri are native Assamese speaker?

      Is it something to declared by one during census?

      I am asking this question because during 60’s struggle for language in Barak valley, Muslim Bengali population was completely indifferent, kept themselves at a safe distance and acted against the movement stating that they were actually native Assamese speaker – an easy way to become indigenous I suppose.

      • August 18, 2012 12:19 PM

        That 70.07% of the population in Dhubri are Assamese speakers is according to official Census of India figures of 2001. Yes, it is by declaration during census. Now, even before you bring up how credible are census figures on this count, please remember that the same census figures regarding high decadal growth rate of Muslim population are cited as ‘credible’ proof of immigration. But let me explain a little more. I have already mentioned that when the Bengali Muslim population of immigrant origin in Nagaon, Goalpara and Kamrup decided to stay back during partition, it was a conscious decision on their part to assimilate into the composite Assamese identity, beginning with adopting the language. There are no Bengali medium schools in these areas and the successive generations have educated themselves in the Assamese medium and speak Assamese at home too. The Muslim Assamese speakers have consistently reinforced the number of Assamese speakers in Assam. Their effort to become an indigene isn’t merely by declaring themselves as Assamese, but by actually progressively assimilating, in contrast to their brethren in the Barak valley.

    • Ahom permalink
      August 18, 2012 2:14 AM

      Again what exactly does the general population growth of Kokrajhar have to do with the growth of MUSLIMS percentage? I know you cannot answer the question so you dodge it as you would a snake. Don’t worry Bengali muslims will never be the majority in Assam. If the Assamese could fight of the mighty Mugals and keep our state independent we know how to deal with these infiltrators.

      • August 18, 2012 12:36 PM

        Percentage of Muslim population in Kokrajhar was just 20.36% as per Census of India 2001. Even though Census of India 2011 is yet to release the data on religion and language, given Kokrajhar’s decadal growth rate of population from 2001 to 2011 being just 5.19%, it is unlikely that this will go up. That entirely rubbishes your laughable claim of “MUSLIM population of Kokrajhar has exploded.”

  23. jdevika permalink
    August 17, 2012 2:17 PM

    This is an excellent piece, thanks a ton, Nilim. I am also delighted that the utterly ignorant, stupid, and rabidly communal comments are also put up here. This is the best way to expose them — in the light of sane and sound arguments

  24. Ravi permalink
    August 17, 2012 8:15 PM

    Beggars can’t chose. The contrast between these two statements tells us that.

    “To eke out a living, they often migrate to the towns and cities as construction labourers, vegetable vendors or rickshaw pullers, living in ghettoized shanty towns”

    “At the time of Partition, a substantial Bengali Muslim immigrant population chose to stay back in Assam as Indian citizens.”

    Otherwise the article seems fine.

    Also predictably no mention of the Muslim terrorist groups operating in Assam. Author treading the Kafila line here. Okay. Understandable.

    “Intelligence sources claim that at least 200 trained Muslim cadres belonging to various radical organisations are operating in Kokrajhar and Chirang. Reports say at least 15 Islamic rebel outfits are operating in lower Assam, with Dhubri as the base. Prominent among these are the Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA), Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), and the Muslim United Liberation Front of Assam (MULFA). Adding to this list, the Assam Muslim National Army (AMNA), commanded by former cop Ramjan Ali has demanded that 13 districts be carved out of the state to form a separate administrative
    area for the community”

    http://www.tehelka.com/story_main53.asp?filename=Ne180812Why.asp

    Here’s a slice of assimilation (your word) of (rabid?) Dhubri Muslims

    “Besides communal insecurity has been common among households. It is highly prominent among the Hindus (100%) than Muslims (zero per cent)”

    http://www.icssr.org/Dhubri.pdf (Page 46)

  25. August 17, 2012 9:28 PM

    A very well researched article. Thank you for providing us a clear insight into politics behind the riots in Assam.

  26. mols permalink
    August 18, 2012 4:44 AM

    Excuse me! Mr Dutta…. The diabolical other conspiring to overwhelm the natives did actually happen elsewhere but not far…in Tripura! Did the local populace resist or protest then, before the eventuality?And today? So, i LOGICALLY & irrefutably, can conclude from above facts (history, proximity/sharing of borders, agents involved, similar socio-economic and demographic variables then) that the local Assam wasn’t dreaming about the conspiracy by the ‘diabolic other’ then and at present too. Am i wrong if i say, ‘this can happen to Assam’? I pray it doesnt! Is my argument illogical? Yes!
    Your basic argument is based on your hypothesis:”Migration rather than illegal immigration is largely responsible for the demogrphic transformation ” and then you painstakingly dissected statistical data ( data converted to comparative infomation),history, anthropology, geography, socio- economic and political factors of the region then factoring in the biased personal sentiments to conclude that its “…reasonable to look for the roots of conflict elsewhere and not within the simplistic explanation of illegal immigrant versus natives…”. You have indeed made it very simple but confusing! What i understand, the roots cause is in the issue of ‘claims to rights(basic/cultural/economic/political/natural/constitutional/individual)’, the issue of ‘survival’, the issue of ‘right to use of resources’,…., but then these are all symptoms, aren’t they all? Where/what is the disease then? Of course, as you made it out to be, its simple…its an issue of ‘legal’ v/s ‘illegal’, neither natives vs muslim nor hindu vs natives …any hindu/muslim/other after the tag ‘illegal immigrant'( a Bangladeshi in India post 1971) is an unfortunate description but a necessity, to distinguish between who has the right and who hasnt IN India. Obviously, in the continuing fight for rights, the errants/defects in this process comes to light…which in plains words are the ‘illegal immigrant Bangladeshis’! Arent they the disease? Not muslims, as many make it out to be!
    Its funny and just too, here in Nagaland, the constituionally legal muslim community of Nagaland, seeks to distinguishes itself from the illegal immigrant Bangladeshis. They seek to chose a seperate defination for themselves for various reasons…care to investigate the reason(s) why? Why Nagas, including the Bihari(s), Marwadi(s), Punjabi(s),…etc., in Nagaland are apprehensive of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants? Of course, it all has to do with rights, rather infringement/encroachment of their rights!

    • August 18, 2012 12:42 PM

      My point is straight forward: Claims of huge numbers of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam are not supported by any empirical data. Nor can you use the bogey of Bangladeshi to label an entire community, who shares the same roots but are Indian citizens, as Bangladeshi whenever they voice grievances or demand parity in rights. Will they who came legally forever remain immigrants?

  27. Raj permalink
    August 18, 2012 10:17 AM

    Recently I was in Tezpur and Jorhat districts of Assam. There were thousands of Bnagladeshi squatting on road sides and in the forest areas, right in to the Kaziranga rhino sanctury. Even a blind man can see them there, except for Mr. Nilim Dutta and the “Authorities”.

    • August 18, 2012 12:51 PM

      Really? I know that the villagers, allegedly encroaching forest land, in Kaziranga’s periphery are Muslims. So, just because they are Muslims, they are Bangladeshis? What proof have you to back up your claims? For most like you, anyone wearing a chequered green or blue lungi is a Bangladeshi. That being the case, there is absolutely no cure for such prejudice and paranoia. But it just may be worthwhile to mention that percentage of Muslim population in Jorhat as per COI 2001 was just 4.77% and isn’t likely to go up in any alarming way in the COI 2011 figures in spite of your claims of thousands of Bangladeshis. Also, Kaziranga is spread across the districts of Nagaon and Golaghat, not Jorhat.

      • Deuri permalink
        August 19, 2012 2:24 AM

        Nilim, I have to admit that you have written a very solid article. As with all complex human problems, this one too needs a matured and open-minded study of all angles. Your efforts provide one angle.

        However, I expect an straight answer from you to this: Are you only questioning the degree of Bangladeshi illegal infiltration to Assam (or any other part of India) or are you saying that the very concept of Bangladeshi infiltration is a figment of imagination? Please note that I categorically refuse to say “Bangladeshi Muslim” but just say Bangladeshi, because that is what it is. The problem has very little to do with religion. It would not have mattered even if they were Hindus (or any other X, Y, Z religion).

  28. Yasmin Qureshi permalink
    August 18, 2012 11:30 AM

    Great article, gives a lot of insight.

  29. YASSER ARAFAT permalink
    August 18, 2012 12:29 PM

    i dont know where this migrants of bangladesh come from….but let me tell u the reason for population growth with my example…i m from dhubri(we live here from my grandfather birth time) …. my grand father had three wife with 15 childrens and from that the 1st daughter is having 12 children,2nd daughter-10 children,3rd daughter-7children,4th son-3 child,5th son-4 child where i belong,6th daughter-2 child, 7th son-3 child ,8th daughter-4 child,9th daughter-2 child,10th son-3 child,11th daughter-2 child,12th daughtr is married yet to concive and last 3 son is yet to get married. here is the list of 71 member in one family and also i have not given my generations data…it counts somewhere near 110 total…now u DECIDE..wnt to know any things else mail me yasser_arafat19@yahoo.com, we also have a NGO (pubarun foundation)in gauripur, dhubri………… and the main cause of clash is gunda tax charged by the bodo people(specially NDFB & BLT) and the rejection for the same….for any query fill free to mail me………..

  30. Mitu Sengupta permalink
    August 18, 2012 1:00 PM

    Congratulations, Nilim Dutta, on an excellent and courageous article!

  31. N RAJNIKANTA SINGH permalink
    August 18, 2012 3:18 PM

    I dont understand why everyone is talking about the facts and figures, about violence and none to offer a solution to the real problems faced by common people out there. Dear brothers and sisters, pls offer solutions to the problems..As for me i suggest all community leaders should seat down and discuss the immediate solution, visit the relief camps, villages together, offer them the trust that things will be better and pray together…the anger in most of the people will subside..peace will prevail…Gob Bless all of us.

  32. R K Baruah permalink
    August 18, 2012 3:48 PM

    I have not read the full article but as I was looking into it so a quick comment is that…. there is a picture here saying that a rally organized by Hagrama Mohillary in Delhi in 2010. it was not organized by Hagrama Mohilary in fact that was organized by All Bodo Students Union. I would request you to make the correction accordingly. Understanding the politics and issues of BTC is tough as there are many organization and groups which are having different ideologies and aims and objectives , so one need to be there and inform others about the true picture.

    Thank You

  33. abhijit permalink
    August 18, 2012 5:40 PM

    Thanks for you detail informatiom Mr N.Dutta.

  34. ashutosh permalink
    August 18, 2012 8:01 PM

    Nilima Ji,

    Read your article..very well articulate…But i also read the report of Governor of Assam which shows the different picture… Excerpt of report and link is as follows….

    Community-wise growth:
    Year Assam All India
    Hindus Muslims Hindus Muslims
    (i) 1951-1961 33.71 38.35 20.29 25.61
    (ii) 1961-1971 37.17 30.99 23.72 30.85
    (iii) 1971-1991 41.89 77.42 48.38 55.04
    Explanatory Note
    The decadal growth rate for both Hindus and Muslims for the period 1951-61 and 1961-71 was higher than their respective All India growth rate, indicating migration of both communities into Assam. However, during the period 1971-91 Hindu growth rate in Assam was much less than the All India figure. Possibly, this was due to large scale population movement of non-Assamese Hindus out of Assam during the Students movement and subsequent militancy in the State. In the case of Muslims the Assam growth rate was much higher than the All India rate. This suggests continued large scale Muslim illegal migration into Assam.
    d. Muslim population of Assam has shown a rise of 77.42% in 1991 from what it was in 1971. Hindu population has risen by nearly 41.89% in this period.
    e. Muslim population in Assam has risen from 24.68% in 1951 to 28.42% in 1991. As per 1991 census, four districts (Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta and Hailakandi) have become Muslim majority districts. Two more districts (Nowgaon and Karimganj) should have become so by 1998 and one district (Morigaon) is fast approaching this population.
    20. The growth of Muslim population has been emphasised in the previous paragraph to indicate the extent of illegal migration from Bangladesh to Assam because as stated earlier, the illegal migrants coming into India after 1971 have been almost exclusively Muslims.
    21. 21. Pakistan’s ISI has been active in Bangladesh supporting militant movements in Assam. Muslim militant organisations have mushroomed in Assam and there are reports of some 50 Assamese Muslim youth having gone for training to Afghanistan and Kashmir.

    The unabated influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh—, threatens to reduce the Assamese to a minority in their own State, as happened in Tripura and Sikkim.The long-cherished design of Greater East Pakistan/Bangladesh, making inroads ito the strategic land-link of Assam with the rest of the country, can lead to severing the entire land mass of the North-East- – — from the rest of the country. This will have disastrous economic and strategic consequences.

    The dangerous consequences of large scale illegal migration from Bangladesh, both for the people of Assam and more for the Nation as a whole, need to be emphatically stressed. No misconceived and mistaken notions of secularism should be allowed to come in the way of doing so. As a result of population movement from Bangladesh, the spectre looms large of the indigenous people of Assam being reduced to a minority in their home State. Their cultural survival will be in jeopardy, their political control will be weakened and their employment opportunities will be undermined. This silent and invidious demographic invasion of Assam may result in the loss of the geostrategically vital districts of Lower Assam. The influx of these illegal migrants is turning these districts into a Muslim majority region. It will then only be a matter of time when a demand for their merger with Bangladesh may be made. The rapid growth of international Islamic fundamentalism may provide the driving force for this demand. In this context, it is pertinent that Bangladesh has long discarded secularism and has chosen to become an Islamic State. Loss of Lower Assam will sever the entire land mass of the North East, from the rest of India and the rich natural resources of that region will be lost to the Nation.

    In April 1992 Hiteshwar Saikia, then Chief Minister of Assam, said on the floor of the State Assembly that there were about 3 million illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in the State. The Muslim United Front leaders declared that he must withdraw his statement within 48 hours-or they would bring his government DOWN. Saikia withdrew his statement

    http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/states/assam/documents/papers/illegal_migration_in_assam.htm

  35. ashutosh permalink
    August 18, 2012 8:12 PM

    Nilima Ji,
    Read your article..very well articulate…But i also read the report of Governor of Assam which shows the different picture… Excerpt of report and link is as follows….
    Community-wise growth:
    Assam All India
    Year Hindu Muslims Hindu Muslims
    1951-61 33.71 38.35 20.29 25.61
    1961-71 37.71 30.99 23.72 30.85
    1971-91 41.89 77.42 48.38 55.04
    Explanatory Note
    The decadal growth rate for both Hindus and Muslims for the period 1951-61 and 1961-71 was higher than their respective All India growth rate, indicating migration of both communities into Assam. However, during the period 1971-91 Hindu growth rate in Assam was much less than the All India figure. Possibly, this was due to large scale population movement of non-Assamese Hindus out of Assam during the Students movement and subsequent militancy in the State. In the case of Muslims the Assam growth rate was much higher than the All India rate. This suggests continued large scale Muslim illegal migration into Assam.
    d. Muslim population of Assam has shown a rise of 77.42% in 1991 from what it was in 1971. Hindu population has risen by nearly 41.89% in this period.
    e. Muslim population in Assam has risen from 24.68% in 1951 to 28.42% in 1991. As per 1991 census, four districts (Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta and Hailakandi) have become Muslim majority districts. Two more districts (Nowgaon and Karimganj) should have become so by 1998 and one district (Morigaon) is fast approaching this population.
    20. The growth of Muslim population has been emphasised in the previous paragraph to indicate the extent of illegal migration from Bangladesh to Assam because as stated earlier, the illegal migrants coming into India after 1971 have been almost exclusively Muslims.
    21. 21. Pakistan’s ISI has been active in Bangladesh supporting militant movements in Assam. Muslim militant organisations have mushroomed in Assam and there are reports of some 50 Assamese Muslim youth having gone for training to Afghanistan and Kashmir.

    The unabated influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh—, threatens to reduce the Assamese to a minority in their own State, as happened in Tripura and Sikkim.The long-cherished design of Greater East Pakistan/Bangladesh, making inroads ito the strategic land-link of Assam with the rest of the country, can lead to severing the entire land mass of the North-East- – — from the rest of the country. This will have disastrous economic and strategic consequences.

    The dangerous consequences of large scale illegal migration from Bangladesh, both for the people of Assam and more for the Nation as a whole, need to be emphatically stressed. No misconceived and mistaken notions of secularism should be allowed to come in the way of doing so. As a result of population movement from Bangladesh, the spectre looms large of the indigenous people of Assam being reduced to a minority in their home State. Their cultural survival will be in jeopardy, their political control will be weakened and their employment opportunities will be undermined. This silent and invidious demographic invasion of Assam may result in the loss of the geostrategically vital districts of Lower Assam. The influx of these illegal migrants is turning these districts into a Muslim majority region. It will then only be a matter of time when a demand for their merger with Bangladesh may be made. The rapid growth of international Islamic fundamentalism may provide the driving force for this demand. In this context, it is pertinent that Bangladesh has long discarded secularism and has chosen to become an Islamic State. Loss of Lower Assam will sever the entire land mass of the North East, from the rest of India and the rich natural resources of that region will be lost to the Nation.

    In April 1992 Hiteshwar Saikia, then Chief Minister of Assam, said on the floor of the State Assembly that there were about 3 million illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in the State. The Muslim United Front leaders declared that he must withdraw his statement within 48 hours-or they would bring his government DOWN. Saikia withdrew his statement

    http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/states/assam/documents/papers/illegal_migration_in_assam.htm

  36. Rajdeep permalink
    August 18, 2012 8:20 PM

    Lots of census data`s etc. etc. I know that Assam has many indigenous muslims peoples. I truly respect them. In fact i am leaving in a muslim dominated place with peace and harmony. This particular moment I am least bothered about the violence and the clashes. I just want to know from you (Mr. Nilim Dutta) what according to you, do Assam have illegal Bangladeshi`s? Whatever the numbers. Please be specific in a single words without your hefty logical and calculated data`s.
    Thanks

  37. sai permalink
    August 19, 2012 12:00 AM

    Thanks Nilim for a different perspective to the Bodo-muslim issue. I read the article a few times and I think you make some very valid points. However, what about the growth in muslim mix between 1971 and 2001 – from 24.6% to 30.9%? Is your argument that this is entirely driven by higher birth rates among local muslims and has little to do with illegal immigration?

    • sai permalink
      August 19, 2012 12:18 AM

      Those numbers relate to the entire state of Assam. My own pretty basic analysis leads me to believe that it implies a fair amount of illegal immigration ( 1-2 million range). Truth can be more complex, so I am willing to have an open mind on this.

  38. Gowhar permalink
    August 19, 2012 10:28 AM

    A really courageous article.It is rather unfortunate that every vice or failure on our part is blamed on “foreign hands”, be it the Bangladeshis or our western neighbor.Terrorists aren’t born, terrorists are made. The horror stories of Nelle are still hounding the minds of the many and the fresh violence is bound to leave behind the venom for the future generations.It is all politics and the political parties take full advantage of such situations. Why don’t we Indians accept the Muslims as a part of our society. Why do we alienate them just because we are not able to accept them as a part of our Nation.We surely need to introspect ourselves not only for the present but for the future of India.

  39. August 19, 2012 2:39 PM

    Dear Sri Dutta, can we translate your good article in Bengali? Please mail me if possible .

  40. August 19, 2012 5:33 PM

    Respected Nilim Dutta,

    I would like to say the article is really appreciable. In this era, where people are more interested in ‘masala’ gossips and myths rather than facts, you have done a brave job of exposing the myth. Being a student of International Relations I was trying to understand the whole issue of Assam. I found this article very good which laid its basis on facts rather than myths.
    And you know, I was totally unaware of the Nellie Massacre. Reading it was like some kind of archaeological excavation. People in India are more aware of Anti Sikh riots and Gujarat massacre, but very few know about this. Its even quite shocking a genocide of this magnitude, in which more than 3000 were killed in just six hours is buried into history, only because majority of victims were Bangladeshi Migrants. Many of the realities were distorted by the AGP government in Assam.

    The article gave me a good amount of knowledge about the issue. But I still feel I have to look more into the issues regarding the NE, because my of things in public domain is distorted facts.

  41. August 19, 2012 6:04 PM

    Than you, everyone, for a rich discussion.This thread is now closed.

Trackbacks

  1. India: Are riot politics back? | Orissa Online Portal
  2. The Myth of the Bangladeshi and Violence in Assam: Nilim Dutta « kracktivist
  3. India: The Assam Riots – Truth Vs Hype · Global Voices
  4. COLUMN | Cjournalist.com
  5. COLUMN – The retreat of the state and social media; a new problem for South Asia : HotSocialBookmarks.info – Social Bookmarking tips! | Twitter tips | Facebook tips |
  6. The Hidden Injuries of Race: A Response to Lawrence Liang: Rijul Kochhar « Kafila
  7. အိန္ဒိယ: အာသံ အဓိကရုဏ်း – အခြေနေအမှန် နှင့် ပုံကြီးချဲ့မှု · Global Voices ျမန္မာ
  8. Of immigration and ethnic and religious political mobilisation | Ideas are bulletproof
  9. Top columnist, top fraud: the curious case of Nilim Dutta | Firstpost
  10. On the arrest of Nilim Dutta « Kafila
  11. The Reality of Immigration to Assam | Abdul Kalam Azad
  12. Assam: Ethnic Communal Divides to the Fore
  13. Assam: Ethnic Communal Divides to the Fore | Bhindi Bazar
  14. Assam: Ethnic Communal Divides to the Fore | Beyond Headlines : An attempt to 'report a cause aright'
  15. Illegal immigrants must leave Assam with in 15 days: Assam BJP Warns
  16. Refugee law should be modified to include environmental/climate change refugee: The Bangladeshi Example. | relationsczar

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55,281 other followers

%d bloggers like this: