The Assam Impact
[dropcap]N[/dropcap]o official figures of actual numbers of Bangladeshis in Assam could be ascertained in the headcount in the Northeastern region. However, it is estimated that a little over one-fourth of Assam’s population are Bangladeshi immigrants. Because of this reason, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) had launched a bloody campaign to push Bangladeshis back to their land way back in 1980s. Subsequently, Assam government and the students union signed a pact in 1985, but clauses on the deportation of foreigners have still not been implemented. Talking of influx, while Tripura is in a precarious situation, Nagaland appears to be the next destination of the illegal immigrants who are swarming the state by the day. There is a drastic change in the socio-economic scenario of Nagaland with the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants mostly entering through Assam taking over all the manual works – wage labour, taxi driving, rickshaw pulling and cultivation at rates cheaper than the locals or Bihari labourers.They also run almost half of the shops in Dimapur, the biggest commercial hub of the state. While we attribute the presence of large number of Bangladeshi population in Assam, who subsequently spill over into other parts of the region so rapidly, to the porous international border, we should also not ignore the presence of some kind of cartel operating in collusion with key government officials. These operators arrange to procure such documents which can give these immigrants the legitimacy to claim Indian citizenship. The only states are relatively free from the menace in the region are Sikkim, Manipur and Mizoram. However, if concrete and bold policy decisions are not made urgently at the highest level, it will not be long before the natives of the entire region are reduced to a minority. Region’s economic underdevelopment coupled with ‘Center’s prolonged negligence’ and the continuous insurgency and the chasm that existed between the people of the region and the mainland people have given room to the illegal immigrants and outside elements to take maximum advantages. The illegal Bangladeshi infiltration into Assam and elsewhere in the region has changed the region’s demography and now it has become a serious threat to the future survival of the region’s people and also the internal security problem for the nation. Former Assam Governor Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Ajay Singh once observed that about 6000 illegal Bangladeshis are entering Assam daily. If this is true, then the figure would be 1,80,000 Bangladeshis in a month and a staggering 21.6 lakh annually. The state will have 21.6 million illegal Bangladeshis by 2015, outnumbering the entire population of the region excluding Assam. Identification and deportation of the illegal Bangladeshis can be tackled without much difficulty through informed consent given by all the stakeholders particularly the politicians, bureaucrats, civil society and other groups and individuals. Compromising a national threat of such magnitude for petty political gains or for some monetary consideration should be dealt with in the most severest of manner. Punishment of perpetrators of such crime should be well stated in the policy formulation which is an urgent need.