TODAY -

North East tragedy: Policy failures and influx
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: January 05 2018 -



Extra security measures taken up by the State Government in the wake of publication of the first draft of National Register of Citizens in neighbouring Assam is commendable.

The entire North East region in general and Assam in particular are victims of unchecked influx of migrants.

Assam had witnessed massive and violent anti-foreigners movement in the early 1980ís which led to the birth of the powerful All Assam Studentsí Union or AASU in short.

The genesis of the anti-foreigner movement can be traced back to the partition of the country when hundreds of refugees from Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) migrated to Assam, West Bengal, Tripura and Bihar.

Until 1971, the Central Government followed a policy albeit implicitly to give shelter to all Hindu refugees and to deport all Muslim infiltrators from East Pakistan.

After March 25, 1971, however, the Government of India and Bangladesh agreed that all further migration into India would be treated as infiltration and all such infiltrators whether Hindu or Muslim, would be deported.

At one point of time, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru not only rejected the Government of Assamís demand for introduction of an inner line permit system but also blackmailed the Assam Government to accommodate the East Pakistanis by threatening to block Central funds.

In fact, Jawaharlal Nehruís liberal policy for the East Pakistan immigrants had a far reaching effect on Assamís politics and demography as is witnessed today.

People coming from Nepal and mainland India also added to the immigration pressure on Assam and other Northeastern States.

New Delhi made another policy blunder during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

Usually people who are temporary asylum seekers during war/political unrest are repatriated to their parent countries immediately after the war/political unrest is over.

But millions of refugees who came to Assam during the Liberation war were not repatriated by the Indian Government after the creation of Bangladesh.

The indigenous Assamese people severely threatened by the unchecked Bangladeshi influx, launched an extensive anti-foreigners movement led by the All Assam Students Union (AASU).

The moment was also known as the six years Assam Movement that began in 1979 to detect and deport the foreign nationals.

After more than 855 Assamese people sacrificed their lives, the movement ended with an accord, now known as the Assam Accord in 1985. Strangely there was no time frame for implementation of the Accord.

As commented by many scholars and analysts, the Government of India has never really been serious in implementing the Assam Accord in a time bound manner and this is testified by the failure to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) since 1951.

It was updated only in 2017 which ended just a few days back at the instruction of the Supreme Court.

The disastrous impacts of illegal migration are not restricted to Assam alone.

Bengali immigrants have completely overwhelmed indigenous people of Tripura who now constitute a marginal minority while the immigrants have taken total control of the Stateís political powers apart from completely dominating its socio-economic spheres.

There are many legislations like the Foreignersí Act to deal with immigration of foreigners even though their effective implementation remains dubious but there is no legislation to deal with unchecked influx from mainland India.

Threats to demographic profiles of the Northeastern States come from both foreign immigrants and domestic immigrants from mainland India.

That is why the people of Manipur have been undertaking a massive sustained campaign for re-introduction of Inner Line Permit System in the State.

Compared to Assam, Manipur is a very tiny State and its people are severely threatened by unchecked influx.

Yes, the State Government must prevent illegal immigration or infiltration of foreigners into the State but only security measures would not be enough.

No doubt, deployment of alert security forces or police at border areas is crucial given the strong possibility of infiltration of illegal immigrants from neighbouring Assam and Myanmar but such heightened security measures should be accompanied by a clear-cut policy driven by the right dose of political will to check or regulate influx from different directions into the tiny State.



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