In a compelling note, the Committee for Protection of Land Rights of Indigenous People of Assam has uttered the view that illegal migration is currently the chief threat to the security and identity of the indigenous people of the State which means these migrants can wipe out the local people of Assam. These migrants are seizing government and other lands with active support of fundamentalist and political leaders.
The committee, headed by HS Brahma, former Chief Election Commissioner of India, in its interim report said that illegal migration is a continual threat to the very existence of the indigenous people of Assam and if such migration is not checked instantly by sealing the unplugged borders and detecting and deporting the illegal migrants via a repatriation treaty signed with Bangladesh, the condition in the State would aggravate further.
The report pointed out that the gravest threat to land rights of the local people came from unrestricted intrusion by illegal Bangladeshi migrants. Bangladeshis have been clutching government and private lands for more than decades.
This could not have been thinkable without the collusion of the corrupt bureaucrats, local government employees and political patronage, the committee observed.
Names of many Bangladeshis were discovered in the voters’ lists in violation of the Representation of People’s Act and in fact, one Bangladeshi national was even elected as an MLA.
Hitting out at the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, the committee shockingly observed that the Act was passed only to protect the illegal migrants.
But thankfully the Act was later scrapped by the Supreme Court. In its order, the Supreme Court had also detected that the Act was enacted not to detect illegal migrants but to protect them.
The report mentioned that if a proper survey is conducted, it would be clear that more than 90% of the encroachments (of various classes of land in the State) are done by the illegal Bangladeshis in a professionally organized way. Consequently, many illegal new villages have bounced up overnight not only in the char areas but also in the reserved land. The government’s position has all along been the one of facilitator and connivers to such infiltrators.
Giving a circumstantial of illegal migration, the report said that it is not a new phenomenon in Assam and has been going on since 1905. The prophetic apprehension of SC Mullan, a British ICS officer in the 1931 census report has come to be absolutely true after 86 years.
The report additionally pointed out that during the period from 1937 to 1946, lakhs of Bengali Muslims were trade in to Assam in the pretext of the ‘Grow more Food’ programme and they were settled in forest reserves, VGRs and PGRs, etc.
The state of affairs has now deteriorated to such an extent that gangs of illegal Bangladeshi migrants, armed with dangerous and lethal weapons attack indigenous villagers in areas like Sipajhar, Mukalmua, Mayong, Hajo, etc., to grab land to set up new villages.
Expressing concern over the encroachment of the Sattra land by the illegal migrants, the committee also pointed out that more than 8,000 bighas of Sattra land is under encroachment by the migrants.
There have been allegations that such illegal migrants were involved in heinous crimes like murder of Satradhikars, rape of women, etc. These issues should be investigated into thoroughly by the government, the committee said.
The report further said that the systematized encroachment of the Sattra land by suspected Bangladeshi migrants not only vitiated the cultural sanctity of the Sattras but also endangered the safety and security of the Sattra population and property including the rare antiques. The committee said that bold and effective steps must be in place to evict the illegal encroachers from the Sattra land through sustained eviction operations.