A Monthly Journal of the IDSA
Insurgency in Assam: The Demographic Dimensions
By Dinesh Kotwal *
The Assamese had to cope with the influx of Bengalis into their state since the pre-independence period. They, thus, attempted to neutralise the impact of these migrants on their economy and society through enactment of the line system and deportation. The economic migrant flow to the state started in the 1820s owing to the discovery of tea and it continues till date. These migrants were used in the pre-independence period by the Muslim political leaders for their political agenda to retain power and subsequently merge the state with Muslim majority provinces. Thereafter, in the post-independence period, these migrants were exploited as en masse vote banks by the Indian political leadership, giving rise to a further influx of illegal migrants to the state. This paper examines these trends of illegal entry of foreigners to the state in the pre-and post-independence periods from East Pakistan and subsequently from Bangladesh.
Assam under the Ahom kings from the 13th century till 1819 was the dominant power in the northeast, having only tenuous links with the central power in Delhi. The Ahom kingdom comprised the area of present-day Assam excluding Goalpara, the Surma valley and the hill districts. It was centred in the Brahmaputra valley. The kingdom was about 500 miles in length with an average breadth of 60 miles. 1 The Ahom Kings had also established their domination over all the hill tribes in the neighbourhood, like the Nagas, Mikirs, Kacharis, Garos, Khasis, Jaintias and Mizos. These kings were able to maintain some sort of order in the region despite their frequent clashes with the Nagas. However, on the whole, the Ahoms were able to keep the tribes on their periphery under their control. Thereafter, in the early 19th century, the Ahom kingdom started weakening, and the Burmese invasion in 1816 gave it a shattering blow. The Nagas took advantage of the political confusion to throw off the Ahom yoke, and reverted to their favourite pastime of making predatory raids into the plains of Assam.
The weakening of the Ahom rule in the beginning of the 19th century created unsettled conditions in the entire region. The Burmese invaded and ruled over Assam for a brief period from 1816 till the British routed them in 1826. Under the Treaty of Yandaboo which ended the First Burmese War, Assam became a British possession. "The Yandaboo Treaty has closed a glorious period of Assam history i.e. it formally ended the Ahom rule and introduced a new era of British regime". 2 In the beginning, Assam was administered by an agent under the supervision of the governor-general. Later on in 1839, it was appended to the expansive province of Bengal. Assam was constituted into a separate administrative unit under a chief commissioner only after 1874. Subsequently, in 1912, Assam was reconstituted as a chief commissioner's province with the Muslim-majority Bengali speaking district of Sylhet and the Hindu-majority Bengali-speaking district of Cachar tagged on to it. Following the Montague-Chelmsford reforms, Assam became a full-fledged province under a governor in 1921. 3
This paper aims to study the magnitude of the illegal migration to Assam and its impact on Assamese society. The Assamese had to cope with the influx of Bengalis into their state since the pre-independence period. They, thus, attempted to neutralise the impact of these migrants on their economy and society through enactment of the line system and deportation. The economic migrants' flow to the state started in the 1820s owing to the discovery of tea and it continues till date. These migrants were used in the pre-independence period by the Muslim political leaders for their political agenda to retain power and subsequently merge the state with Muslim majority provinces. Thereafter, in the post-independence period, these migrants were exploited as en masse vote banks by the Indian political leadership, giving rise to a further influx of illegal migrants to the state. This paper examines these trends of illegal entry of foreigners to the state in the pre-and post-independence period from East Pakistan and subsequently from Bangladesh. It further examines the local responses against the growing presence of foreigners on Assamese soil from the late 1970s, which eventually culminated into insurgency/terrorism since the mid- 1980s.
Pre-Independence Migration Trends
With the discovery of tea in 1821, the British government took steps to convert the steamy verdant hills into rich tea plantations. Since 1826, there had been a regular flow of non-Assamese into Assam. In order to run the imperialist administration, clerks and officers familiar with the system of company administration were brought by the British from outside the province, particularly from Bengal. The Marwaris and Biharis, in smaller numbers, started trade and business in the state because of the opportunities created as a result of economic expansion under the British rule. The Marwari traders and Assamese Mahajans of Barpeta financed the immigrants substantially in order to reclaim lands and expand the cultivation of jute, rice, pulses and vegetables. By the end of the 19th century, there were 400,000 migrant labourers producing 145 million pounds of tea. Between 1911-21, the tea industry imported 7,69,000 labourers. Another 4,22.000 came during the following decade. 4 The 1931 census indicated the presence of 14 lakh tea garden labourers in Assam. 5
In the pre-partition period, both Hindus and Muslims entered the state, but the influx of Muslims was much higher. The quantum of illegal migrants to Assam was phenomenal. 6 It became a crucial issue for the Assamese because they feared that the population profile of the valley would tilt in favour of the migrants if the influx continued. Indeed, in Barpeta subdivision, the percentage of immigrant Muslims increased from 0.1 per cent in 1911 to 49 per cent in 1941. The total number of Muslims in Brahmaputra valley in 1941 was 16,96,978 against the total Hindu population of 32,22,377. 7 About 87 per cent of the population in the Surma valley were migrant Bengalis. 8 A substantial number of the immigrants were Muslims (see Table 1).
Table 1. Growth of Muslim Population: Inter-Censual Decades 1881-1931
Yearpopulationincrease onmigration ofmigration
*less by 15,000.
+ less by 12,000.
Sources: Census of India, Report on Assam for respective years (Religion Chapters).
The Muslims soon became a significant community in Assam. The incessant immigration of Bengalis, both Hindus and Muslims, was viewed by the Assamese as a conspiracy to reduce them into a political minority and they demanded administrative measures from the government for curbing it.
The Line System
The government as a response to the people's aspirations mooted the "line system" initially in 1916 which was implemented in 1920 to curb illegal migration to the state. In 1916, the deputy commissioner of Nowgong suggested a novel scheme to segregate areas where new immigrants could settle, from those which were declared the exclusive preserve of the Assamese by drawing imaginary lines. However, the system failed to contain immigration flows. While in most cases whole villages were reserved for the settlers or the locals, there were a number of common villages where imaginary lines cut across the settlements. Assamese public opinion began to clamour for restrictions again. The British decided to adhere to the line system, with some modifications.
The Assam Gazette Extraordinary, of November 4, 1939 notified the new plan. The salient points were: (a) settlement was forbidden to both immigrants and non-immigrants in the village grazing grounds and professional grazing reserves; (b) settlement was limited strictly to actual cultivators and in proportion to their individual resources, subject to a ceiling of 30 bighas; (c) wherever possible, the size of the protected areas should be larger. This was to apply particularly to the areas where the tribal belts and villages could be segregated easily for protection; and (d) those who had settled before April 1, 1937 should be regularised, provided the settlers' number in a village was not less than 15. 9 In essence, the new line system regularised those large-scale encroachments, which had taken place before April 1, 1937, and proposed special protective measures for tribal areas. The new policy failed to please either of the affected parties. The Assamese thought the line system had been diluted and the Bengali Muslims wanted total withdrawal. The migrants, however, required more lands. The migrant leaders and the Muslim League urged the government to abolish the "line system" and adopt a liberal policy towards immigration.
The provincial ministries of Assam never had an easy time on the immigration issue. Chief Minister Saadulla held an all party conference to discuss the "line system" on June 1, 1940. The government advocated a development scheme which accommodated the views of the Assamese, and a government resolution of June 21, 1940 followed. It banned settlement on waste lands by immigrants entering Assam after January 1, 1938, and decided to go ahead with a land development scheme for providing land to the landless local people and eligible immigrants, in that order of priority. But before the scheme could be put into practice, the Saadulla ministry collapsed. When the governor took over the administration, by the resolution of March 6, 1942, he scrapped the development scheme since it was harming the interests of the local people and the settled immigrants. As soon as Saadulla returned to power on August 25, 1942, a new resolution on the land settlement under the slogan "grow more food" was announced and many pending evictions were stayed. 10 It was widely regarded as a Muslim League ploy to allow more Muslims to settle in Assam. The viceroy also stated that it actually meant "grow more Muslims". 11 The politics of this period continued to be monopolised by the issue of immigration. So rapid and large was the immigration from Bengal that between 1911 and 1931, the Muslim population in Assam increased from 5 per cent to 30 per cent. C.S. Mullan, a British census commissioner, commented in his Census Report of 1931 that "immigration was likely to alter permanently the whole future of Assam and to destroy more surely than the Burmese invasion of 1820 the whole structure of Assamese culture and civilisation." 12 He analysed the impact of the immigration and called it, "the invasion of vast horde of land hungry Bengali immigrants, mostly Muslims, from the districts of East Bengal. By 1921 the first army corps had passed into Assam and practically conquered the districts of Golpara_A population which must amount to over half a million has transplanted itself from Bengal to Assam valley during the last twenty five years_It is sad but by no means improbable that in another thirty years Sibsagar district will be the only part of Assam in which an Assamese will find himself at home". 13 Thus, the pattern for Assam's political milieu was set by these developments, decades ago.
Eviction of Immigrants: Pre-Independence Responses
The increasing Muslim population owing to the encouragement given to immigration by the Muslim leaders and Saadulla, led the Assamese to retaliate. Bordoloi decided to implement earlier government resolutions to evict migrants from forest reserves and other places where they had no business to be. Lakhs were turned out and Lord Wavell sent a message to the secretary of state in Britain saying that this drive, "may well lead to retaliation against the Hindus of the Surma Valley". 14 Assamese achieved this by endeavouring to: (a) reduce the Muslim population by deporting immigrants; and (b) push Sylhet out of Assam to further reduce the Muslim population. Predictably Jinnah and the provincial Muslim League expressed grave concern over the future of immigrants facing eviction. The Muslim League formed a subcommittee with Saadulla as treasurer to collect funds for their aid. The Muslim League also observed "Direct Action Day" on August 16, 1946, resulting in a communal clash in Sylhet. Saadulla met the Cabinet Mission on March 24, 1946, and tried to prove that Assam was a Muslim majority province. He proposed that not only Sylhet, but the whole of Assam should be transferred to Pakistan. On this issue the viceroy was blunt: "Jinnah", he said, "could not expect Assam in East Pakistan". 15
Sylhet's fate was to be decided by a referendum and a Boundary Commission. The referendum in Sylhet was held on July 6 and 7, 1947. The Assamese welcomed the decision hoping that the artificial union between Sylhet and Assam would now be over. 16 But the Bengali Hindus of Sylhet were in a quandary. Having agitated so long for transfer to Bengal, they now preferred to remain in Assam to being transferred to Pakistan. The Assamese, however, did not want them in their province. The result was declared on July 14, 1947_2,32,619 had voted in favour of Pakistan and 1,84,041 in favour of maintaining the status quo. The result was celebrated both by the Muslims and the Assamese. 17 But the Bengali Hindus were shocked. The Congress leadership was criticised for abstaining from Sylhet during the "crucial day". 18 Sylhetiya Hindus criticised the government of Assam for permitting the entry of hundreds of Muslim League National Guards into the district. The separation of Sylhet and resistance to Muslim immigration were believed to be the solutions on which depended the very existence of the Assamese. 19
Another route of response to the "sea of immigration" taken by the Assamese Hindus was "linguistic nationalism". Ever since 1874, when the districts of Sylhet, Cachar and Dhubri became tagged to the province of Assam to make it economically viable, the Assamese refused to accept Bengalis other than as intruders and aliens. The Assamese dislike for Bengalis became quite evident when the Assam government did not show interest in the merger of Sylhet with Assam. Pursuing the policy of dislike towards Bengalis, the Assam government by an order dated September 26, 1947, imposed Assamese as a compulsory second language in all schools where it could not be the first. The Bengali language became the first casualty of this order when out of 250 Bengali medium primary schools in Dhubri sub-division of Goalpara district, only three remained within three years of the passing of the order. Therefore, the Assamese view language as a more effective weapon to counter the "Bengali cultural imperialism." 20 To supplement the order to bring in linguistic homogeneity, a circular was issued from the Revenue Department, 21 on May 4, 1948 based on the principle: "Accept Assamese as mother tongue and we give you land". The vast number of Muslim migrants who had come to Assam since the days of Saadulla declared Assamese as their mother-tongue in the census of 1951 to retain their lands in their occupation and thus among the inflated Assamese-speaking population, Bengali Hindus became isolated. 22
It was stated that settlement of land should in no circumstances be made with persons who are not indigenous to the province. An indigenous person was defined as a person belonging to the province of Assam and speaking the Assamese language or any tribal dialect of Assam or, in the case of Cachar, the language of the region. The overnight demographic change was sweeping, for the great body of Bengalis, mostly Muslims, who had migrated from East Bengal since the regime of Saadulla, became Assamese-speaking, at least on record, for the sake of lands they were in occupation of. At one stroke, the Bengali Hindus were isolated and the Assamese- speaking population rose from 31 per cent in 1931 to 56.7 per cent in 1951 within two decades. The census showed a growth of 149 per cent. 23
The aggressive language policy also created widespread apprehension amongst hill tribes. The Mizo Union Executive Committee resolved that if the intention of teaching the Assamese language in the hill districts was to bring the hill and the plains people to a closer understanding, then the language of the hills should also be taught in Assamese schools. The reaction of other hill districts was even stronger as they apprehended that their languages and cultures would become victims to the Assamese linguistic policy. This led them to agitate for separate states of their own which they got ultimately as the full-fledged states of Mizoram, Meghalaya and Arunachal.
Post-Independence Migration: Bangladesh Connection
Because Eastern Pakistan must have sufficient land for its large population and Assam will give it full scope for expansion and because Assam has abundant forest and mineral resources such as coal, petroleum etc., Eastern Pakistan must include Assam to be financially and economically strong.
_ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Eastern Pakistan: Its Population, Determination and Economics
The policy of the Muslim leaders since Saadulla's time has been to occupy the land in Assam for their ever-growing population. These designs were not so detrimental to the security of India as they turned out to be after the assassination of President Mujib. Purely because Bangladesh aligned itself to Pakistan and so the Bangladeshi Muslims started posing a threat to the security of India at the behest of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). 24
The relative decadennial percentage growth of the population of Assam, All India and Bangladesh is indicative of the fact that large scale in-migration from Bangladesh took place. Table 2 reflects the same: 25
1901-191116. 99 ÿ5.75ÿÿ9.1
That there has been a very high number of illegal migrations from Bangladesh can be testified by the fact that: (a) population increase for All India from 1961-1991 was 72.96 per cent, and for Assam it was 87.39 per cent. If Assam's population was to grow by the average rate for All India in 1991, it ought to have a population of 18,744,000 instead of 22,295,000. At a simplistic level, there are, therefore, 35.5 lakh illegal migrants; (b) large increase in Assam's population registered during the inter- census period 1951 to 1961 is cited as proof of the magnitude of the influx; 26 (c) since all these illegal migrants into Assam are from Bangladesh, most of them are Muslims. 27
The same holds good as per census reports of Bangladesh also. The population of Bangladesh as per 1991 census was 10,79,92,140, and in 1996, the population was 11,99,57,313. That there was no exaggeration in the figures is borne out from the statistics of the Electoral Roll of Bangladesh as published on October 7, 1995. According to this Roll, the story is different. Bangladesh had 5,60,16,178 voters, which was 61,65,567 less than that of the 1991 Roll. In 1991, she had 6,21,81,745. Moreover, the Election Commission of Bangladesh has disfranchised 20,00,000 voters on the ground of their long absence from the country, and their names were deleted from the Electoral Roll of 1995. The infiltration arithmetic can be summed up as under: 28
In a country with a high 2.4 per cent population growth, more than six million voters were found decreasing within a four-year span or so. It indicates that these six million and the increased number of voters during these four years plus a disfranchised 20 lakhs have infiltrated to India. In a review made by the United Nations Organisation, Bangladesh should have had a 118 million population in 1991, but a national census report of the country showed about 108 million population that year. Where were these 10 million Bangladeshis? Moreover, in 1951, Bangladesh had 22 per cent minority population, which by now has come down to 10 per cent in 1995. Most likely, this population has crossed the border and entered India. The trends in illegal migration in no way improved even after the 1991 census. While the All India average growth for a three-year intervening period between the two intensive revisions in 1994 and 1997 is 7 per cent, the growth in Assam for this period is 16.4 per cent. 29
The community-wise percentage of growth in Assam as compared to All India figures further strengthens the argument of large-scale migration of Muslims to Assam. This is indicated below (Table 3): 30
Assam All India
The decadennial growth rate for both Hindus and Muslims for the periods 1951-61 and 1961-71 was higher than their respective All India growth rates, indicating migration of both communities to Assam. 31 However, during the period 1971-91, the Hindu growth rate in Assam was much less than the All India figure. Possibly, this was due to a large-scale population movement of non-Assamese Hindus from Assam during the student's movement and subsequent militancy in the state. In the case of Muslims, the Assam growth rate was much higher than the All India rate. This suggests a continued phenomenal migration of Muslims illegally into Assam. It was facilitated at the local level by vested interests. Politicians were willing to regularise matters by arranging ration cards or other certification, or by securing electoral registration to create potential vote banks. 32 The strength of Muslim legislators in the Assam Legislative Assembly between 1952-91 is indicated in Table 4.
Year Total Muslim LegislatorsTotal seats% of Muslim Legislators
Source: Chronicle of "Presiding Officers And Members of Assam Legislative Assembly", 1937-92, Government of Assam.
As a result of the massive influx of illegal migrants, the Muslims have become majority groups in Dhubri (70.46 per cent), Barpeta (56.07 per cent), Goalpara (50.18 per cent), and Hailakandi (35.42 per cent). A scenario might emerge in the coming decades whereby the neighbouring Bangladesh government demands accession of Assam to Bangladesh. "Assam's turnaround of Rupees 3,000 crore a year for tea, Rupees 2,500 crore in oil and other assets can be lost to a foreign nation". An apprehension to this effect was expressed by none other than the Governor of Assam Lt General (Retd.) S.K.Sinha. 33 As a result of population movement from Bangladesh, out of 126 Assembly constituencies in Assam, minorities are a deciding factor in as many as 40. 34 In spite of this, the Dhaka government's stand on migration to India is that it does not happen. Admitting that migration exists would lead to Bangladesh being asked to take back those identified by India as illegal migrants. Since the number of such illegal aliens is rather high, the only way out is denial. The political and economic price of accepting those pushed out by India would be very high indeed.
The insurgency problem in Assam and the problem of illegal migrants are closely interlinked. It can definitely be said that the migrant problem contributed immensely to the rise of insurgency in Assam. If one closely observes the pre-independence protests of the Assamese against the hordes of migrants, one could draw a conclusion that the Assamese had long ago stopped welcoming the Bengalis from East Bengal. Such protests subsequently turned violent in the Eighties and are being exploited by Pakistan's ISI. The illegal migrant issue is deeply ingrained in the Assamese psyche. Unless an acceptable solution to the foreigners problem is found, the insurgency in Assam cannot be extinguished. Detecting and deporting the foreigners may not be possible now, at least not in the accepted sense of the term, and newer options must be considered for an innovative solution of this problem. The implementation of the Foreigners Act may please the Assamese, but it is bound to create more problems than solutions. One of the major problems is that it is bound to create a fear psychosis among the Bengali Muslims. This fear among the substantially large Muslim population can lead to a greater bloodbath in the state. Therefore, a new approach to the solution of the illegal migrants problem is needed.
The ex-Director General of the BSF, E.N. Ram Mohan, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, pointed out during a Press conference on November 30, 2000, as reported in The Assam Tribune, "The Other Side of Influx", December 5, 2000, that the key to the solution of the infiltration problem faced by the northeastern states, particularly Assam, lies with the politicians. The fact that political will on the part of our political parties and politicians is sadly lacking in view of their vested interest in safeguarding their vote banks of voters of doubtful origin is today known to all. Moreover, the tendency on the part of a section of our political leaders and parties to raise a hue and cry in the name of harassment of minorities whenever any move is initiated to detect illegal migrants, is a major stumbling block in undertaking any meaningful measures to detect illegal migrants in the state. Therefore, keeping the political compulsions in view, the Indian government can consider issuing residential and work permits to all the illegal migrants, irrespective of their country and origin, after detecting and registering them. These people must be divested of their voting rights in the elections of the State Assembly and Parliament. Their rights must be protected by suitable legislation and part of their income may be allowed to be repatriated back home. This is a practical and possible solution, which will greatly diminish tensions in the state. Moreover, it should be the responsibility of the state government to ensure that no further influx of the illegal migrants takes place in the future.
Note 2: N.N. Acharya, A Brief History Of Assam (Gauhati: United Publishers, 1966) p. 77. Back
Note 3: R. Gopalakrishan, Socio- Political Framework in North- East India (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd., 1996) pp.7-129. Back
Note 4: Myron Weiner, Sons of the Soil (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1978), p.81. Back
Note 5: Gopalakrishan, n.3, p.129. Back
Note 6: Since the turn of the 20th century, nearly six and a half million migrants and their descendants have settled in Assam, Weiner, n.4, p.80. Back
Note 7: M. Kar, Muslims in Assam Politics (New Delhi: Omsons Publications, 1990), p.12. Back
Note 8: Imperial Gazetteer of India, vol. VI (reprinted edition, 1908), p.4. Back
Note 9: Shekhar Gupta, Assam: A Valley Divided (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd., 1984), p. 104. Back
Note 10: Government of Assam Memorandum on Waste Land and Immigrant Policy, August, 1943. See Kar, n.7, p.59. Back
Note 11: P.Moon ed., Wavell: Viceroy's Journal (Delhi, 1977), p.41. Back
Note 12: Census Report of India -Assam, 1931, vol. III, Part1, p.49. Back
Note 13: Lt General (Retd) S.K. Sinha, PVSM, governor of Assam, delivered the Colonel Pyara Lal Memorial Lecture_2000 on "Trans-Regional Movements of Population: Implication for India's Security", at USI, New Delhi, on September 29, 2000, p. 9. Back
Note 14: Sanjoy Hazarika, Strangers of the Mist (Delhi: Pengiun Books India (P) Ltd., 1994), p.73. Back
Note 15: Ibid., p.80. Back
Note 16: Maulana Abul Kalam Azad refers to 'certain leaders from Assam_(who) were possessed by an inexplicable fear of Bengalis". Ibid., p.55. Back
Note 17: As soon as Sylhet was transferred to Pakistan, The Assam Tribune, July, 1947 ran the headline, "The Assamese Public Seem to Feel Relieved of a Burden," cited in M. Purkayastha, The Anatomy of North- East (Silchar: 1980, annexure VI). Back
Note 18: M. Kar, "Muslim Politics in Assam", North-Eastern Affairs, July- December 1973, pp.17- 21. Back
Note 19: A. Guha, Planter Raj to Swaraj, Freedom Struggle and Electoral Politics in Assam 1826-1947 (New Delhi: 1977), p. 335. Back
Note 20: V.I.K. Sarin, India's North-East in Flames (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd., 1980) p.69. Back
Note 21: Pannalal Dhar, Ethnic Unrest in India & Her Neighbours (New Delhi: Deep& Deep Publications, 1998), p.354. Back
Note 22: It was the aggressive linguistic nationalism of the Assamese as reported in the census of 1951 that converted the majority Bengali community into a minority. Back
Note 23: Dhar, n.21, p.355. Back
Note 24: According to a former ISI official, Pakistani officials cultivated close ties with the Muslims of India who participated in the Afghan jehad. The official said that Pakistan segregated them in special training camps and, after they returned to India, they participated in the insurgencies of Kashmir, Punjab and the northeastern states of Assam. See <http://www.fos.org/irp/news/1993/terrorism_press.html>, "Terrorism in India- Extracts from Independent Reports," p.4. Back
Note 25: "Governor's Report to President on Influx Problem", The Indian Express, December 22, 1998. There was no census in Bangladesh in 1971 and in Assam in 1981. It was carried out in Bangladesh in 1974. The figures indicated have been worked out on the basis of the 1974-91 growth rate. As per census reports, the growth rate of population in 1971-1991 is 52.44 in Assam and All India it is 48.2. Assam has been the fastest growing area in the subcontinent for the past 90 years. Its population has grown by 676 per cent, from l3.3 million in 1901 to 22.3 million in 1991, as compared with 354 per cent for India as a whole from 238.4 million in 1901 to 843.9 million in 1991. See D.Kotwal ,"Instability Parameters in Northeastern India", Strategic Analysis, vol XXIV, no. 1, April 2000, p.141. Back
Note 26: B.G.Verghese, India's Northeast Resurgent (New Delhi: Konark Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 1997), p.41. Back
Note 27: To detect the illegal migrants, in 1983, the Illegal Migration (Determination by Tribunal Act) referred to as IM (DT) was enacted. Despite the millions of illegal migrants residing in Assam, in 15 years only 9,599 have been identified and of these, only 1,454 could be deported. Many of those deported might have come back through our highly porous borders. As a rough estimate, the exchequer has spent about Rs 300 crore in 15 years over the infrastructure for the IM (DT). Sinha, n.13, pp.20-21. Back
Note 28: "Bangladesh's Poor_India's Woe", North-East Sun, July 1-14, 2000, pp.16-17. Back
Note 29: Sinha, n.13, p.16. Back
Note 30: n.25. Back
Note 31: According to official estimates, there are around 15-18 million Bangladeshi illegal immigrants in the country, living mostly in Bengal, Assam and Tripura, but spreading swiftly to other parts, including New Delhi and Mumbai, in search of employment. "Bangladesh Immigrants- Slums and Vote Banks", The Sentinel, October 5, 2000. There are varying views regarding the present strength of Bangladeshi illegal migrants in Assam. On April 10, 1992, Hiteshwar Saikia the then chief minister of Assam stated in the Assam Legislature Assembly that there are three million Bangladeshi illegal migrants in Assam, but only two days later, he issued a statement that there was not a single illegal migrant in Assam. Sinha, n.13, p.15. Back
Note 32: Verghese, n.26, p.294. Back
Note 33: "Influx of Bangladeshis National Problem: Sinha", The Sentinel, September 30, 2000. Back
Note 34: "BJP to Woo Assam Majority to Counter AGP", The Hindustan Times, September 27, 2000.Back