Assam: How Ulfa terrorism altered demographic pattern
Hope this is not posted.
A book titled Assam Terrorism and the Demographic Chal-lenge (Centre for Land Warfare Studies-Knowledge World), written by me and published in 2009, assumes greater relevance in the light of the recent riots in Kokrajhar. It dwells on how the demographic pattern of at least eight districts in Assam got adversely altered over two decades of terrorism by United Liberation Front of Assom (Ulfa), when its leaders were hiding in Bangladesh.
The agitation culminated in the Assam Accord signed by the central government and representatives of All Assam Students Union (AASU), which was largely an economic package. The Illegal Migration Determination by Tribunal (IMDT) Act enacted by the ruling Congress in 1983, replacing the Foreigner’s Act of 1946, was clearly driven by political agenda of vote bank. It virtually regularised illegal migrants from Bangladesh who migrated into India up to March, 1971 and even beyond. Peace was bought through a financial package on one hand, and status-quo prevailed in terms of accepting Bangladeshis who migrated before March, 1971 as Indian citizens on the other. The vote bank was saved. Constitutionality of such an accord between a students union and central government was never questioned.
This Act made it almost impossible for a Bangladeshi migrant to be deported from Assam. Under the Act, the onus of establishing nationality rested not on the illegal migrant, not on the government, but on an individual who had to pay a fee to lodge a complaint to a stipulated jurisdiction. It took 22 years for the Supreme Court to repeal IMDT Act as un-constitutional in 2005.
As I had assessed in early 1992, Barua and gang soon came into the strong grip of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) detachment in Bangladesh. The Ulfa escapees not only became conduits for ISI to enter India ’s Northeast region to establish contacts with other violent groups there, but also became its great assets for anti-India activities. Ulfa became an effective tool of the ISI for pursuing its aim of inducting and settling illegal Bangladeshi migrants in various parts into Assam, raising new madarasas and controlling old ones and trying to convert ethnic Assamese Muslims to fundamentalism, creating communal tension, circulating fake Indian currency, trafficking arms and narcotics, sabotaging installations-particularly rail and oil- and public services, assassinations and massacres and generally spreading terror. Whenever Ulfa felt the heat of Army operations, its oft-repeated ploy was to cry out for ceasefire and negotiation, only to get respite and reorganise itself.
According to news reports, the recent July-August 2012 riots between Bodos and non-Bodos/non-Assamese in Kokrajhar, being referred to as “Bangladeshis/Mians from Bangladesh” and its neighbouring districts have left 77 killed and about 3,78,045 people rendered homeless. This being an official figure, no one knows how many more people have taken shelter in the safe zones. Out of the displaced, 2,66,700 are Muslims and 1,11,345 are Bodos. They are in 235 relief camps spread across four districts of the state. Of the 235 camps, 99 camps are for Bodo residents and 136 camps are for Muslim residents. Dhubri district has 90 relief camps, Kokrajhar has 71, Chirang has 62 and Bongaigaon has 12. School and college summer-breaks have been extended. According to news reports and visuals from networks, many of these camps are a living hell
. Till some days ago, there were reportedly only 117 doctors available for almost 4,00,000 displaced people in these camps, where at least 8,000 children were reported to be sick.
With very little or no water, very few toilets and nothing more than only rice to eat, there seems scant hope of any improvement in the health and hygiene.
A senior journalist based in Guwahati, working for a national daily, who visited Kokrajhar soon after the riots erupted reflected general concern when he remarked while speaking to me: “If Bodos, considered quite fierce, have been targeted, what will be the plight of non-Bodos/ Assamese…. No one wants to go back to their villages…. “Bodoland is our birth right” is the slogan written on bus stops and walls of buildings.”
The large gathering at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan protesting against what transpired against Muslims in Assam and Burma can very likely be attributed to the well-established Pak ISI and Mumbai underworld connection cemented by Dawood Ibrahim in 1993, prior to the Mumbai blasts.
What is ironic is that both the Centre and Assam government, led by chief minister Tarun Gogoi, are now enthusiastically negotiating with the so-called pro-talks faction of Ulfa, whose members actively catalysed and greatly boosted the process of illegal migration by Bangladeshis and also got them settled in many areas by terrorising/massacring Assamese and non-Assamese-speaking communities during the two decades till the Bangladesh Nationalist Party was in power.