Northeast intelligentsia and various news reports have clearly stated that illegal immigrants emerged through the final draft of NRC cannot be deported as there is no such arrangement between India and Bangladesh. In addition, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has accused Assam Government of targeting Bengali communities in the state. The future of Assam will be soon decided by how Central govt deals with the illegal immigrants irrespective of religious background.
The indigenous citizens of Assam including whole northeast region need to seriously study if NRC update can really safe Assam and northeast region in the days to come. I also feel observing the living reality of Assam that Indigenous ethnic groups of Assam cannot decide everything from the historical angle of when and how Assam became a refuge for immigrants from Bangladesh and other parts of India without causing human rights violations and adding unending miseries into the lives of fellow human beings i.e. illegal immigrants. Observers agree that India still fails to recover from the Partition of 1947. It’s not that, I don’t acknowledge the fear of indigenous citizens regarding the huge change in demography of Assam but the act of banishing 40 lakhs people from their homes requires unimaginable amount of sub-human emotions like the Nazis of Germany while dealing with the Jews.
Renowned writer Sanjoy Hazarika in one of his articles has also pointed out that it is difficult to differentiate between Muslims of Bengal and Bangladesh while many have made Assam their true home and run schools and institutions established by them, these are several factors worth pondering upon. The failure of successive Assam governments to deport illegal immigrants in the early years of mass migration has now put Assam in a dilemma. Assam is not alone in this immigration issues, internationally: Europe and America are now facing the same immigration crisis. The fear of immigrants overtaking Assam or in any European countries is the fear of Muslims taking over along with their radical elements like Sharia Law. But now Assam and North-eastern states have put up illegal Bangladeshis immigrants tag on both Muslims and Hindus. In fact, several decades ago Hindu immigrants were given special treatment.
Assam and smaller northeastern states have every right to worry and fear the huge explosion of illegal immigrants but can the fear factor alone bail us out in the long run. Most immigrants are found in labour sector and their workforce are in high demand not only in Assam but in neighbouring states like Nagaland and Manipur, so can we just push them away after they do almost all our dirty menial works and help build most of the infrastructures standing today in Assam and elsewhere.
Central government in proper coordination with Assam and other state governments in the Northeast should seriously focus to spend energy and resources in educating the immigrants especially their children. Most of them possess no quality education while many don’t even attend schools nor get disciplined in young age due to weak economic status. This is one of the very reasons when they hit adolescent age most of them turn to crime and anti social activities due to their poor upbringing. And now, like most democratic country in Europe and America, democratic India too need to explore several options of transforming illegal immigrants into loyal Indian citizens. I see them as great assets not liability to India well being after all they enter India to feed themselves not bring terror. Before exploring such options straight away kicking them out like animals would only create multiple crises, after all as human beings, let’s respect human rights at any cost.
New Delhi ought to arrange better deal for the illegal immigrants by saying no to detention camps policy. Let’s not forget India is world’s largest democracy and has huge role to play in the well being and growth of South Asia Continent.
Lastly the people’s constant fear of change in demography of Assam yet relying on the services of illegal immigrants is pathetic. The same logic applies to other northeastern states. If we want their services we ought to like them too by recognizing their existence, their current situation is no less than African slaves in the then Europe and democracy loving America (USA).
The author is a legal practitioner in Nagaland. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org