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The seminar on Assam in Delhi adds fuel to the fire

Thursday November 15, 2012 10:20:22 PM, M. Burhanuddin Qasmi

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In a deliberate attempt to insult the genuine Muslim inhabitants of Assam, a group of ‘intellectuals’ in New Delhi, demanded to declare alleged ‘influx from Bangladesh’ a national problem.

Much to their humiliation, most of the genuine Muslim residents of Assam are branded as ‘illegal migrants’ by a group of people who gained fame by banking on Muslim bashing.

Such one-sided discussion would add fuel to the fire, rather than solving the problem, argued other intellectuals who are also the stakeholders in the issue.


At a national seminar on ‘Conflict in Bodoland, Issue of Influx and Land Alienation in Assam: Problems and Perspectives’ organised by All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) held in New Delhi on 8th November, speakers gave the impression that so-called ‘illegal influx’ from Bangladesh is the only major problem this country has today.

Some of the speakers were former ‘policy-makers’, who were directly or indirectly involved in affairs of Assam in the past. Participants included former Home Secretary GK Pillai, former Special Director of Intelligence Bureau (IB) RN Ravi, former Governor of Assam and Jammu and Kashmir Lt General (retd), SK Sinha, former General Officer Commander Four Corp Lt General (retd), DB Shekatkar and BJP Rajya Sabha MP and columnist Chandan Mitra— most of them have negative track record dealing with sensitive Muslim issues during their service tenures or while expressing views in public through pen or speech.

The seminar presided over by Sanjoy Hazarika was also addressed by adviser of All Assam Students Union (AASU) Samujjal Bhattacharya, ABSU president Pramod Bodo, journalists Samudra Gupta Kashyap and Nitin Gokhale and founder president of SARHAD, Sanjay Nahar.

The one-sided handling of the seminar in the national capital indicates how the recent mass exodus and rioting in the BTAD of Assam, where till date thousands of innocent people remained captive in the make-shift camps, might have been influenced by people from out of Assam. National media partly reported about Muslim witch-hunts by heavily armed Bodo groups in far off villages in an attempt to cleansing the desired land area for a future Bodoland state in July-August this year, including sporadic retaliatory violence from Bengali speaking Muslim minority.

It is noteworthy that another 25-30 thousand 1993-94 Kokhrajhar riot victims in the same BTAD have yet to get shelter let alone justice. Their despair finds no end owing to the national and international apathy even after 19 years.

The rule of India’s saffron brigade vis-à-vis Assam’s NRC and D-voter issue — rather all insurgent and communally sensitive northeastern issues, needs serious introspection by the office bearing people in India’s policy making bodies. The Bharatya Janata Party (BJP), through its tattered communal agenda is creating pro-Christian noises in case of Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Manipur. This is because the states gradually acquired a Christian majority, and then it played up Islamophobia with Assam, for Muslims are a major chunk – 31 per cent in the state’s population, yet the party is losing ground in northeast – Assam’s last Assembly election can be an example. It should be imperative for the BJP to find stirring issues such as purported illegal Bangladeshi influx in Assam bringing its direct volunteers such as Sangh Parivar or indirect assistants such as named above in to the work field before 2014 general election.

Very recently Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said in New Delhi that the trend of migration from neighbouring Bangladesh has declined since 1991. Following the BTAD violence he has even questioned, “…where are the Bangladeshis in Assam…help identify them for prosecution…’’ before the media in Guwahati.

In New Delhi he said that his government was "neither over-playing nor down-playing" the issue of migration from Bangladesh but wanted to put the factual position in public domain.

"I am also against foreigners. But in the name of foreigners, no genuine Indian should be harassed," said the Chief Minister.

In some cases a person is declared D-Voter (doubtful) in the electoral roll and barred from using his democratic rights whereas his both mother and father are genuine voters. In a single family father and one son are government employees but on their face a slap of being D-Voter is tagged – an abusive humiliation only those going through it can imagine the impact.

State government and several reports have contended that illegal migration in Assam is not as rampant as propagated by a section of anti Muslim group. “Bringing Bangladeshi angle to Assames ethnic conflict is disservice to the nation”, writes V.K. Tripathi, professor of IIT Delhi. Similarly Prof. Ram Puniyani argues, ‘tendentious comments about Bangladeshi immigration fueled violence in Assam.’

Another celebrated writer and historian Amaresh Misra went down into the pages of history and brought about the facts which testified that Muslim influx from Bangladesh in Assam in the post partitioned India is a hoax. He elaborated his argument starting from 12th century down to the recent ethnic conflict in his article ‘Assam violence: the very idea of India is under threat’ and blames the Sangh Privar and its political wing Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) for the unrest in Assam and Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD).


The author is a Mumbai based Assamese native and editor of English monthly Eastern Crescent. He can be reached at




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