India: Fissures In Assam: Sons Of Soil Vs Bangladesh Intruders – OpEd


The persisting fissures in Assam, which periodically lead to outbreaks of communal violence, are not between Indian Muslims and non-Muslims. They are between Indian sons of the soil, whatever be their ethnicity, religion or language, and Bangladeshi intruders.

The failure of successive Governments to deal effectively with continuing illegal immigration from Bangladesh by sealing the border, by strengthening border controls and by identifying and throwing back the illegal immigrants is giving rise to understandable concerns in the minds of the sons of the soil that they are being inexorably reduced to a minority in their own homeland.

India - Bangladesh Relations
India – Bangladesh Relations

There are even suspicions and fears of political and administrative connivance in facilitating the illegal migration and the integration of the illegal migrants with our own citizenry. The extent of these suspicions and concerns was evident from the observations of a Bodo student in an NDTV debate on the night of July 28,2012. He alleged that due to inaction by successive Governments the Muslims constitute 75 per cent of the population in certain areas.

While his figures seemed to be exaggerated, officials in our intelligence and security establishments agree that the failure of the State and Central Governments to counter head-on the problem of illegal immigration is eroding our internal security machinery in the North-East.

There are similar suspicions and concerns in the Rakhine State of Myanmar over the non-stopping illegal immigration of Muslims, known as Rohingyas, from Bangladesh. The anger among the sons of the soil over these intruders from Bangladesh periodically leads to outbreaks of violence between Muslims and non-Muslims.

There was one such outbreak recently in which there were about 80 fatalities and the internal displacement of a large number of persons who live in camps. A state of emergency was proclaimed by the Myanmar Government in the entire State and the Army was deployed to restore and maintain order and communal peace. Despite this, total normalcy has not yet been restored.

The Myanmar Government, security forces and political leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi have been maintaining firmly that the problem in the Rakhine State is one of effective enforcement of law against foreign intruders. Suu Kyi, who is a strong defender of the ethnic rights of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities, has steadfastly refused to recognise the Rohingyas as an ethnic group of Myanmar. They are looked upon as intruders from Bangladesh who have no right to enjoy the same rights as the citizens of Myanmar.

Despite pressure from the UN , the Organisation of Islamic Countries and Western non-governmental human rights organisations, the Myanmar Government has been firmly adhering to the view that these illegal migrants should either go back to Bangladesh or migrate to other countries that might be prepared to accommodate them.

Compared to India, Myanmar is a weak country. In spite of that, it has stuck to its position that it cannot extend the same protection and legal benefits to illegal migrants as it extends to its sons of the soil.

We call ourselves a big power. We pride ourselves on our national strength. And yet, we do not have the national will to act firmly and decisively against the Pakistan-based terrorists and the Bangladesh origin illegal migrants who are slowly corroding our internal security.

The failure to admit and address the problems posed by the presence of a large number of Bangladeshi intruders in Assam and the continuing further intrusion is due to various factors such as political opportunism, political and administrative complicity with the intruders and an inability and unwillingness to understand the strategic threat posed by them to peace and harmony in Assam.

The problem is rendered even more explosive by the insensitive attitude of the indigenous Muslims of Assam. They are one of us. They are our co-citizens entitled to the same rights and protection as you and I. But their misplaced feelings of religious solidarity with the Muslim intruders from Bangladesh and their tendency to downplay the extent of illegal migration and the threats posed by the migrants are creating suspicions in the minds of the non-Muslim sons of the soil.

The indigenous Muslim sons of the soil should identify themselves with the feelings, suspicions and concerns of the non-Muslim citizens. They should be in the forefront of national solidarity. Otherwise, the wedge between the Muslim and non-Muslim sons of the soil could grow wider and create more tensions and violence.

It is time for the Governments at the Centre and in the State, the political parties, the administration and leaders of the indigenous Muslims to do a serious introspection over the gathering concerns in Assam and act unitedly against the intruders from Bangladesh. Ideas being floated by some think-tanks orchestrated from outside India for regularising the stay of the migrants by issuing them work permits are harebrained and should not be touched.

The only solution is stopping further illegal immigration through border fencing and identifying and throwing out those who have already come in. There is no question of their illegalities being regularised.

B. Raman

B. Raman (August 14, 1936 – June 16, 2013) was Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies.

7 thoughts on “India: Fissures In Assam: Sons Of Soil Vs Bangladesh Intruders – OpEd

  • July 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    With fact checking/analysis like this it is no wonder India is going to the dogs.

    For starters, the Rohingya have a presence in the Arakan region (in Burma) from the 7th Century. That’s longer than some of the Telugu-speaking immigrants the British bought to Bengal (and are in Bangladesh right now) in the 18/19th Century.

    They are certainly not immigrants (at least not anywhere near recently!) from Bangladesh. The state apparatus is conducting wide-scale ethnic cleansing as the army there has total power and it’s easier to find/use them as an outlet thanks to differences in physical appearance (and religion).

    Borders in South Asia are recent. Before that, we have different migratory groups in lots of different places. It’s why you have people of mongoloid appearance in India & Bangladesh. In the case of Bangladesh (land of the Bengals), they certainly are not “native”. Should they be purged from Bangladesh too?

    There is no uproar about Burma because most developed nations are only interested in it’s economic worth and will not upset the ruling powers there. It’s hypocrisy as always.

  • July 29, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    A fictitious article without any empirical evidence. The article is full of lies and propaganda. Son of the Soil…blahh blahh blahh B. Raman is full of prevarications.

  • July 30, 2012 at 12:24 am

    From all the facts available from the local govt. and security agencies, it has been clearly explained that those involved in conflict were ALL locals.
    Bengali speaking mostly Muslim but also Hindus on one hand and Bodo tribals mostly HIndus but also Christians on the other.

    Its very similar to when Marathis started targeting Tamils or UP/Biharis in Mumbai. The Indo-BD border has almost been sealed now and there is hardly any infiltration happening since 2010. Border haats have removed the need to do so because locals can now do busines legally.

    The conflict started because two Muslim Bengali-speaking student leaders were killed and then Bodo students leaders were killed in retaliation. The local police should have got into action right away to control the situation.

    The REAL problem is the pathetic state of police and lack of police reforms, low popilation to police ratios and equitable representation of all communities in the police forces.

    Instead the problem is looked in the wrong angle and hence the solution is even more probelmatic. The issue is better security and policing. Particularly when victims and perpetrators on both sides are indigenous

  • July 30, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    This article is totally devoid of any historical facts and it only seeks to perpetuate the falsehood about the status of Burmese Muslims who have been living in Burma for centuries under all sorts of discrimination and persecution. I would advise the author to check his “facts” and stop spewing venom of hatreds towards Muslims….

  • July 30, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    we have widespread allegations that “Rohingya” have been in Arakan for tens of centuries. We are not being presented with any ==evidence== to that effect.

  • August 4, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Bodo-muslim conflict is nothing but a ” ethnic cleansing ” operation conducted by the BLT terrorists (Bodo Libaration Tigers),as this terrorist groups demanded a separate state within they terrotory of Assam .By coducting ”ethnic cleansing” against muslim community theyBLT succed to make BODO peoples majority where they were minority just before thr riot.

  • August 12, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    This article is full of lie & propoganda,this so-called article writer have no knowledge about the north-east states of India.The BODO terroist groups like BLT(Bodo libreration tigers),NDFB who are behind the killings of muslims in BODOLAND.The demand a seperate states and also demand a seperate independent Bodo country are the real evils for India.
    By the violent ethinic cleansing of non-bodo peoples(both Hindu & muslim) they wants to be majority where they are actually minority.


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