Assam protests infiltration of Bangladeshis in India
Various activist groups, including tribal organisations and the All Assam Students Union (AASU) staged a protest in Assam against the state government for its inability to stop Bangladeshis from infiltrating into the state.
The proposal sent by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's cabinet to the union government to accommodate Bangladeshis on humanity grounds has not been welcomed by the people of the state.
Last week, the state cabinet passed a proposal to grant Indian citizenship to refugees who had fled from Bangladesh to avoid religious persecution and entered the country after 1971.
"We are demanding that the constitutional safeguard be given to the indigenous people as per Assam accord because Supreme Court of India has said due to large scale influx of illegal foreigners from Bangladesh there is external aggression and internal disturbance in Assam. The Guwahati High Court has said the illegal Bangladeshis are becoming the kingmaker in Assam. So it is the question of the identity of indigenous people in Assam," said advisor to All Assam Students Union (AASU), Samujjal Bhattacharya.
However, on earlier occasions, the Assam Government has fought Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) ideology to consider Hindu Bangladeshis as refugees coming to India under hard conditions.
The Assam Accord of 1985, signed by late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, has the provision to accommodate all Bangladeshi nationals who have come to Assam prior to March 31, 1971, and it said those coming after this particular date will not be accepted.
The illegal Bangladeshi population has changed the demography of the state and threatened the identity of the residents.
Estimates suggest several million Bangladeshis and their descendents born in India have settled in the country over the decades.
Any push for mass deportation risks creating social unrest and leaving many of Assam's Muslims in limbo, since Bangladesh is unlikely to take them back - a situation with parallels to the plight of stateless Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar.
(Posted on 22-07-2014)