Assam Now, Odisha Next
It seems that the Congress-led governments both at the Centre and in Assam were playing Nero and fiddling about with decisions while Assam burned. The blame game starts between the state and the Centre, although law and order is completely a state subject. How come we always blame the army when the political administration fails to deliver? The Assam violence is not a sudden surge, it is after all a fabricated strategy of the incumbent governments of Assam. It looks Dr Manmohan Singh did not lose his sleep when Assam burnt. More than 40 people lost their lives in gory riots and more than three lakh people have been displaced from their homes and hearth and are compelled to live in shelter houses. The ongoing violence in Assam not only reiterates the governance deficit in the state but also points to the dangerous game of vote-bank politics that the Congress has been playing for decades across the country. The crux of the riots is the unchecked migration of Bengali-Muslim workers from Bangladesh who now form a sizeable minority in the region and are a captive vote-bank for the Congress. This has caused much displeasure within the Bodo community that does not appreciate having to share scarce resources and opportunities with the aliens. Hostilities between the two communities have been simmering for decades now, but the government, both in Assam and at the Centre, did nothing to contain the dangerous situation. Innocent people are now paying for the Congress’s criminal neglect.
In fact, Assam has been one of India’s volatile states in the north-east. The issue of illegal immigrations from Bangladesh there is quite genuine and it is high time the Government of India and Government of Assam took up this issue seriously. The student agitations within Assam during the late seventies up to the mid-eighties of the last century, which culminated with the Assam Accord in 1985, followed by the landslide victory of the Asom Gana Parishad, proved to be not a very successful alternative and the objective for which Asom Gana Parishad had been elected to power was never fullfilled. Hence, the Congress has been enjoying a political monopoly within that state and the approach to the problems of that state has not been what it should have been. So, the Government of India needs to chalk out a comprehensive strategy for the entire north-east as the problems being faced by the ‘Seven Sisters’ are far from having been addressed to. And this has been a major root cause for this unrest within Assam along with poverty and the issue of illegal immigrations from Bangladesh. The first priority in the present instance is obviously the immediate restoration of law and order. This will require a firm and scrupulously even-handed action against those engaged in murder, looting, arson and rioting, and their leaders. This should be based primarily on systematic measures to address fears over loss of ownership and right to land, and concerns over denial of access to resources, development, and means of livelihood. In the long term, steps must be taken to check the flow of illegal migrants from across the border with Bangladesh, which has turned the region into a simmering communal cauldron.
It may surprise many to know that in the State Capital of Odisha, Bhubaneswar, the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants number 50,000 on a very conservative estimate. Nearly every construction site in Bhubaneswar had illegal Bangladeshis working as skilled and unskilled workers. The mining, sponge iron and steel projects have huge Bangladeshi labour force. It is surprising that this is happening right under the nose of the administration and intelligence agencies. It is found that there is a daily influx of around 500 illegal Bangladeshi citizens in the state. Odisha has become the hopping point for illegal immigrants who enter the porous coastal villages and many places in Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts. Political parties give these infiltrators patronage for the vote bank that they carry. In a survey it is found that 72 cities and towns of Odisha have sizeable Bangladeshi population and this is increasing every day. Today, the influx is on an organised basis. The infiltrators are provided all sorts of logistical support from start to finish—how they will come, where they will land, the safe houses (madrasas/mosques) etc. Papers are prepared for them before they reach. Jobs and professions are fixed up for them. Channels for sending and receiving money etc. are established. Most of this is HUJI and LeT sponsored. New mosques and madrasas are springing up in these areas. These people are all sleeper cells for their handlers in the terrorist organisations. The crime records of the coastal districts bear testimony to this. All the five Marine Police Stations in Odisha are defunct as they do not have trained manpower. The speed boats and interceptors crafts are rotting. The matter of issuing biometric ID cards to all fishermen is still being debated. This should be done on an emergency scale immediately. All police stations in the state should identify and make a list of pockets where these Bangladeshi infiltrators exist. Is Naveen Patnaik listening?