Guwahati, Sept 20: While the issue of Rohingya Muslims is heatedly discussed in the public domain, former Chief Election Commissioner H S Brahma has warned that illegal migrants in Assam would pose a serious threat to the indigenous people and cultural institutions like ‘Sattras’ pushing them to the point of extinction.
Brahma, who belonged to Assam and headed the Committee for Protection of Land Rights of Indigenous People of Assam, has expressed the view that illegal migration was the latest serious threat to the security and identity of the indigenous people of the state.
The continuous flow of these infiltrators can outnumber the indigenous population and virtually wipe them out, the report warned. These migrants are seizing the government and other lands with active support of the fundamentalists and political leaders who indulge in the vote bank politics.
The committee submitted its interim report which highlighted the threat of the unabated illegal migration into Assam which has posed a grave danger to the very existence of the indigenous people of the state.
The committee warned that the condition of the state could aggravate further in case no action like sealing the borders with Bangladesh and detecting and deporting the illegal migrants staying in Assam immediately.
The report pointed that the unrestricted influx from across the border posed a serious threat to land rights of the local people. They have been grabbing government and private lands for more than a decade, it mentioned.
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 such infiltrators were discovered in the voter’s lists in violation of the Representation of People’s Act and in fact, one Bangladeshi national was even elected as an MLA, the reported pointed.
The report mentioned that the IMDT Act (which now stands nullified) was passed only to protect the illegal migrants. However, it thanked the Supreme Court for scrapping this act later as the apex court found that the act was not enacted to deport the illegal migrants but to provide a safeguard to them.
The committee mentioned that if a proper survey was conducted it would be clear that more than 90 % of the encroachments are done by the illegal Bangladeshis in a professionally organised way. As a result many new illegal villages have come up overnight on the char lands and also in the reserved land. The government has all along acted as a facilitator and connived with these infiltrators.
Giving a circumstantial evidence of the illegal migration the committee said that this was not a new phenomenon in Assam and has been going on since 1905. The prophetic apprehension of the then ICS Officer and census commissioner C S Mullan in 1931 has come to be absolutely true after 86 years.
The report pointed to the fact that during the period 1937 to 1946 lakhs of Bengali Muslims were sent to Assam in the pretext of the “Grow more food” program and settled in reserved and other government lands.
The state of affairs has now deteriorated to such a low that gang of illegal Bangladeshi migants, armed with dangerous and lethal weapons attack indigenous villagers in areas like Sipajhar, Mukamua, Mayong, Hajo etc. to grab land to set up new villages.
They have even encroached on over 8000 bighas of Sattra (Religious mutt) lands, the committee pointed in its report.
The report also pointed to allegations against these illegal migrants about their involvement in crimes like murder of Satradhikars, rape of women etc. and urged the government to conduct a proper probe into these crimes ad bring the culprits to book.
The report further stated that the systematic encroachment of the Sattra's land by the 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. Bold and effective steps must be taken to evict these illegal encroachers from the Sattra land through a sustained eviction program, the committee mentioned in its report.