oppn parties Sowing the Seeds of Another Agitation in Assam

News Snippets

  • SC says it will revisit its definition of 'Hindutva' in the light of growing hate speeches
  • Indigo reduces the flying ban on stand-up comic Kunal Kamra to three months after an inquiry committee finds that it was a Level 1 offense not meriting a 6-month ban
  • Akali Dal MP Naresh Gujral says Delhi Police did not act on his phone call asking them to help 16 people trapped in riot-hit areas
  • AAP councillor Tahir Hussain, booked for murder and arson, says he is being framed
  • New HC bench allows the Delhi Police plea that the situation is no conducive to the filing of FIRs and also allows the Centre to become a party to the case
  • Justice S Muralidhar of the Delhi High Court, who was part of the bench that pulled up the Delhi Police for not filing FIRs against BJP leaders for hate speeches, transferred to Punjab HC
  • Two Special Investigation Teams (SITs) of Crime Branch in Delhi Police have been formed under DCP Joy Tirkey and DCP Rajesh Deo. The teams will immediately take over the investigations of the cases related to northeast Delhi violence. Both the teams will be under the supervision of BK Singh, additional commissioner of police (Crime Branch)
  • Sporadic violence was reported from riot-hit areas in the capital as the intensity of the madness seems to have abated. The death toll has risen to 37
  • Special DG (Training) in CRPF, S N Shrivastava, appointed special commissioner (law & order) in Delhi Police in order to quell the violence. He is also expected to take over as chief of Delhi police once Amulya Patnaik's term ends on February 29
  • Curfew and shoot at sight orders reportedly in force in some areas, but Delhi Police HQ does not issue a notice for the same
  • The Central government has pressed paramilitary forces to control the riots in Delhi
  • Mobs in Delhi target journalists, check them for religious identity and snatch equipment
  • 13 people deal until now in one of the worst spells of violence in Delhi
  • Violence in Delhi shows no signs of abating with fresh areas in the north-eastern part of the capital coming under its grip
  • Delhi High Court says DGCA was wrong in approving the flying ban on stand-up comic Kunal Kamra by airlines other than Indigo for his alleged misbehavior with TV anchor Arnab Goswami aboard an Indigo flight
Delhi Police file a case for murder and arson against Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain. Hussain is believed to have played a role in the murder of IB staffer Ankit Sharma whose body was found in Jafrabad
oppn parties
Sowing the Seeds of Another Agitation in Assam

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2015-09-25 17:32:42

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Assam is flooded with the waters of the overflowing Brahmaputra following widespread rains in the state. Now, the NDA government wants to flood it with Bangladeshi Hindu aliens. In a notification published in the official gazette, the Union government has exempted Bangladeshi Hindus entering the country (Assam bears the maximum influx) on or before December 31, 2014 from having valid entry papers as per the provisions of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and the Foreigners Act, 1946. The state had witnessed a prolonged, divisive and often bloody agitation in the 70’s and 80’s against this very issue. Although those who had spearheaded the agitation then had faded away after some years in the sunshine, the recent notification has given them ammunition to regroup and whip up regional passions again.

This time though, their anger is justified. During his election campaign last year, Narendra Modi had played to the gallery in Assam and West Bengal by repeatedly saying that illegal immigrants from Bangladesh would be identified and deported. He was then identifying a problem that had caused much local discontent in both states. Census figures had repeatedly shown that influx of illegal Bangladeshis from the neighbouring country had unnaturally increased the number of Muslims living in the border areas of these two states. But now, by deciding to allow Bangladeshi Hindus who entered India before 2014 to remain here, Modi has gone back on his words.

There are several things that need to be taken into consideration before any such decision is taken. As the government has not chosen to explain its stand, it can be safely assumed that this is a ploy to win the support of Hindu groups and the government has not gone into the complexities involved. The Assam accord specifically said that anyone who came after March 24, 1971, just a day before the war with Pakistan to liberate Bangladesh, would be identified and deported. Why is the accord being rubbished? The Assam governor, P B Acharya has even said that “there is nothing sacrosanct” about the accord. That was a very loose thing to say by a person holding such a high office. Any accord signed by the government of India has to be sacrosanct till rescinded or renegotiated. Assamese society is being swamped by these illegal immigrants whose language and culture is distinctly different. The question is: why should Assam, which has registered the largest influx in the past, be made to bear the brunt once again.

The Union government is sowing the seeds of another prolonged agitation in the state. Already, All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), the body that had spearheaded the anti-foreigner’s agitation from 1979 to 1985, has warned the governor against making any derogatory remarks on the Assam accord. AASU and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) have decided to actively oppose the notification and took out a torch rally in state capital Guwahati on 10th September. Prafulla Kumar Mohanta, student leader during the agitation and chief minister thereafter, has said that he will mobilize his old comrades to oppose the notification. The Assam Sanmilito Mahasangha, an umbrella body of indigenous organizations has condemned the notification. Various local organizations have given calls for strikes. The state is clearly in turmoil.

The worst part is that all this comes at a time when the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to detect illegal immigrants is going on in the state. It is clear that the new notification will stall and complicate the process, leading to inordinate delays and possibly, abandonment. There should normally be no issues if the government wishes to legalize the entry and stay of Bangladeshi Hindus on the compassionate ground that they are persecuted in their country (“where else will they go” is the common refrain of Hindu groups). Most nations in the world do this for persecuted people on many grounds. But without a well chalked out plan for their rehabilitation and relocation, such a blanket allowance is arbitrary and highly burdensome for Assam. The government should first decide where these illegal immigrants are to be settled and how are they to be rehabilitated before committing anything. For, clearly, Assam and its people have had enough of these aliens.