Bangladeshi migrants in Assam & Myanmar – Similarities & Differences

By- Dilip Dutta

People from East Bengal prior to creation of Bangladesh has migrated to both Burma (Myanmar these days) and Assam. To Arakan of Burma (current day Rakhine State of Myanmar) started at least 600 years ago due to Arakan rulers having a cosy relationship with the Sultanate of Bengal. There is no doubt more Bengali speakers illegally migrated since to swell the population to 800000 in 2012. These people are called Rohingiyas and they practice Islam and speak Bengali. In 1982 the Myanmar citizenship law excluded these people and attempted to force them out of their territory.

Quite a number of these Bengali speakers wanted to return to their Mother Country, but, Bangladesh won’t have them. Recently, upon serious riot between the Buddhist Rakhine and the Muslim Rohingiyas, the Rohingiyas came to Bangladesh shores in their thousands and Bangladesh Armed Forces were used to push them back out into the sea. On a BBC hard talk interview Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina defended the decision of not letting Rohingiyas in stating that these people are Myanmar’s responsibility over riding their human rights as refugees and even the Islamic Principles and Quranic dictum. I must hasten to add here she was not comfortable with the searching questions of Stephen Sackur of BBC. Her shifting eyes betrayed her anxiety over her stance as she knows very well that despite her secular stand point, Islam is her religion and cannot abrogate her primary responsibility to Islam and the Ummah which means an Islamic Nation without boundary ie global Islamic State. His argument against accepting refugees on humanitarian ground was that Bangladesh has too many people and could not afford to have any in. The huge population growth in Bangladesh no doubt due to refusal to accept family planning and practising polygamy to be good Muslims emulating their Prophet Mohammad. One should take not here that Rohingiyas in Myanmar are not allowed to produce more than two children.

Towards the later part of our Ahom Kingdom of Assam, artisans from Bengal were brought in to do the brick constructions in Gorgaon the Assam Capital then. These artisan families were minuscule. During the Mughal invasions Assam at one point the invaders reaching Gorgaon, some Assamese wanting to take advantage of the future ruling class in Assam coveted to Islam and some were put in a situation of deceit and enforced conversion took place. Some retreating Mughal soldiers upon defeat in Assamese hands decided not to return to India. When the British Administration was put in place in Assam, there was not even 1% Muslim in Assam. But along with others, Muslim clerical staff was brought in by the administration and in form mid 1880s onwards peasants were brought in from mainly Maymensingh and settled in Assam by the British giving each peasant 3 Bighas of Land to become revenue earners. Although at the beginning it was only a trickle, from available records, between 1891 to 1931 a total of 531523 settlers were settled in Assam Valley. The trend slackened after that, but to restart in 1947 when mostly non-Muslim Bengalis came to settle in Assam. However, during the Bangladesh liberation war the kind hearted and simpleton the then Chief Minister. Sarat Singha of Assam abiding the wishes of Delhi establishment under the stewardship of Indira Gandhi, 30 Lakhs of war refugees were allowed to take shelter in Assam. After Bangladesh became independent these refugees returned to their new-born Republic. However, due to several factors, but mainly once acquainted with place these refugees started illegally entering Assam as the became too attractive for them not to return. This illegal economic migration continues today making at least eleven districts in Assam majority Muslims.

On 7 August 2012, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni stated in her interview with Barkha Dutta (Daily 10 : 8 August ) that, “India has never raised the issue of Bangladeshi migration to Assam ( she corrected this one upon coaxing from Barkha to “not in recent years”). No wonder Bangladesh has not bothered to stop her people coming to settle in Assam (and also to Assam’s neighbouring provinces). Bangladeshi politicians are not fools not to see that Assam Accord, IMDT Act 1983 etc. are just to hood wink people of Assam. Starting from Hitswar Saikia, the Student Leader turned politician with Delhi’s blessings Prafulla Mahanta (instrumental for the Assam Accord which is not worth the paper it was written on) declared that there was not a single illegal Bangladeshi in Assam! The incumbent one Tarun Gogoi has the audacity now to stay in his seat after toeing the line of Indian Home Minister Chidambaram agreeing that recent conflict in Assam is as a result of illegal migrants and since then making statements on record that non Indians would not be rehabilitated.( His statement on The Bock Stops Here : NDTV 7 August). The same person made a commitment to resign sometime ago that he will resign his post and leave politics if a single illegal Bangladeshi could be found! No wonder than Bangladesh is quite happy to let Muslims spread into Assam reducing the load of its population explosion and help in Islamic expansionism. The Hindu Bengalis prayers must have been answered Pranab Mukkherjee now occupying the Presidents Chair, who said as a Union Minister that Hindu migrants should be given Indian citizenship.

In contrast the position of the Myanmar’s President Mr. Thein Sein as per his statement “the Rohingyas don’t belong to their ethnicity so they are illegal and hence would be deported if any third country would accept them” and in his language “This is what we are thinking in the solution to the issue.”

If any reader is feeling vehemently nauseous by Mr Sein’s statement, just wait a minute, as I am typing away news coming in that French President Francois Hollande evicting the Roma settlers in France today and Greece has been rounding up all the illegal migrants and Spain has put a barrier even European citizens coming to Spain who cannot arrange housing and maintain his/her up keep from own resources.

Indian political heavy weights from the BJP party visiting Assam in the recent days has no problem identifying the illegal migrants swamping Assam. How come then when they were in power L.K. Advani as the Home Minister was only interested in finishing off the United Liberation Front of Asom(ULFA) using the full force of the Indian forces of about 500,000 when barbaric atrocities was carried on innocent people to give Assam the taste of another volley of State terrorism. If the Indian State machinery under the BJP (NDA) administration was sincere in getting rid of all the illegal aliens from Assam surely it could have been done. But it was not done. Was it because that presence of these aliens is needed to dilute the Assamese Nationalist cause and make Assamese minority in their own land?

The appeasement of the Muslim by the Indian Congress is a well recognised fact. Renuka Chowdhury the congress spoke person as a panellist on NDTV quoted sensitivity on humanitarian concerns need to be taken into account in dealing with the illegal migrants in Assam. Dear Mrs. Chowdhury, don’t you know that birth rights are paramount and indigenous rights are inviolable? Why is your heart ache towards these illegal economic aliens if not to protect your interest retaining them as a vote bank?

Let me now refer the readers to the 8 August The Buck Stop Here on NDTV. The two Assamese panellist Kalyan Baruah and Mitra Phukan sounded apologetic and defensive as if Assam should be sorry at the sufferings of the illegal economic migrants made homeless in the native and illegal foreigners conflict as if not having enough ammunition to approach the issue with blazing guns or will to do so. What were their constraints? This writer intellect despite a clear discussion about the statement of the Bangladesh Foreign Minister only minutes earlier that the illegal migration issue was never raised by India as bilateral issue, commented that Bangladesh has never acknowledged the large scale migration happening! I call it shooting one’s own foot.

At least another panelist MP Asaduddin Owaisi showed no constraints. Despite cynicism in his expression, “Put them in gas chamber and finish the hell out of them. That is the best solution”, I won’t be too surprised if he was voicing out his inner thoughts of repeating the massacre of Bani Quarayza of Yathrib (Medina) by his Prophet upon Islamic take over of a region to kill and banish the locals if conversion attempts fail; after all Quranic verses like 12.40 , 3:110 has to prevail.

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