Assam, a situation of the North Eastern India, expires again having a mass movement contrary to the provisions on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) which suggests granting citizenship on religious grounds. Numerous petitions from students, advocates, intellectuals among others against CAA are pending the Supreme Court, so, even though matter is sub judice the many issues involved are usually in the public domain and therefore are being continually debated and discussed. Therefore, I plan to bring up here certain aspects with the issues associated with relation to your realities in Assam along with other states on the North East.
The crux in the CAA so far as Assam is anxious is again in comparison to its the ‘foreigners’ issue for that this state were forced to undertake a mass movement during 1979 to 1985 if the All Assam Students Union (AASU) provided the leadership that culminated inside the signing with the Assam Accord using the Congress government led from the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The newly-formed regional party Assam Gana Parishad (AGP), consisting mostly of AASU leaders, located power in Assam in 1985. However, precious little was done through the so-called peoples’ government in the first term and also within the second term later with regards to detection & deportation of foreigners and effectively prevent continuous influx from neighboring Bangladesh.
Influx of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh to Assam along with parts from the North East and India is not really a new problem. It was there within the British period when Bengal was made up of both East and West Bengal; it turned out there through the Partition; it continued within the post-independence period which has a new thrust on ‘vote-bank’ politics of successive governments in Assam; it escalated in the Pakistani invasion of East Pakistan in 1971 and following formation of Bangladesh a similar year. Since then, Bangladesh is really a friendly neighbor for India, and despite numerous rounds of bilateral talks on various issues like the influx hardly anything solid was over to prevent further migration or even deport the prevailing ‘foreigners’; acts on detection of foreigners were created or amended or repealed without tangible results as well as the work of ‘effective fencing’ inside border never really shot to popularity amid allegations of your ‘traditional’ corruption racket in letting in illegal migrants for a couple bucks, to not speak regarding the largely ‘unmanaged’ riverine routes to Assam.
Now, allow us to turn to several salient features with the Assam Movement. The hard facts first: the ‘foreigners’ from Bangladesh belonged to two Indian religions-Hindu and Muslim; the ‘foreigners’ spoke a prominent Indian language-Bangla or Bengali; the Indian Bengalis emotionally feel that all of which were part on the same community prior to the Partition and quite a few of them, so, cannot help but feel a great deal of affinity to the ‘foreigners’. Thanks to these ‘historical facts’ vested political along with interests always developed a ‘conscious confusion’ over ‘minorities-religious or linguistic’ and ‘foreigners’, and this also, as intended, always led other Indians to assume that the Movement was communal and was directed against ‘outsiders’ instead of ‘foreigners’ independent of the inner conflict involving the local people of Assam and also the Indian Bengalis living there. During the time with the first Assam Movement us were studying in Delhi while each of the students of Assam lost an entire academic year. We accomplished a sort of ‘Delhi chapter’ on the movement organizing protests and meeting various political leaders; our focus was on stating the non-communal nature in the movement that has been being directed against ‘foreigners’ inspite of religion or language instead of against ‘outsiders’ or ‘minorities’. At least within my lifetime, there has hardly been whatever distinguishes an Assamese Hindu from an Assamese Muslim; such was the peaceful co-existence inside state incorporating numerous other tribes living there over centuries having their distinct culture and languages. Unfortunately, despite good efforts over the past few decades, we still have to convince other Indians about our non-communal movement knowning that our only concerns are about deportation of foreigners and prevention of further influx from Bangladesh. However, vested interests and politics of vote-bank and polarization never tune in to real arguments.
The CAA has brought in the wake an existential threat on the Assamese-speaking community in Assam, since the proposed grant of citizenship to everyone Hindu foreigners who speak Bangla and who may have come before 31st December, 2014, as you move the cut-off date for illegal immigrants agreed upon inside the Assam Accord was 24th March, 1971, is determined to make the local shop a linguistic minority in their state. This is also true for a lot of tribes in the North East states much like the Khasis in Meghalaya. People from the region also see within this an absolute betrayal of these elected representatives from the ruling parties as even though the act was passed by their houses of Parliament not much of a single vote through the North East ruling Members of Parliament went against it. And how the governments of Assam and also other NE states will be looking at the mass movement? Before going to this we must make a political perspective. The BJP government installed overwhelmingly in 2016 in Assam talked the period about deporting every Bangladeshi foreigner from your state, and if the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was were only available in Assam underneath the supervision from the Supreme Court it had been seen by people being a genuine effort to detect and deport foreigners. However, after exclusion of various millions of suspected foreigners inside NRC, most of those Hindus, even state BJP leaders expressed their displeasure and later on on started stating that this NRC was only a beginning and this a more comprehensive campaign could well be taken up later, the a large number of crores of rupees spent notwithstanding. In this light, the development of ‘Citizenship Amendment Bill’ (CAB) was significant, because that it was apparent that CAB geared towards achieving what NRC couldn’t. And that paved the way for that protests to feature NRC, CAA as well as the National Population Register (NPR) from the movement against as suspicious moves inside alleged overall agenda of divisive and polarization politics on the Hindutva parties. This complete picture made the movement pan-Indian.
However, one basic reason to the pan-India protests could be the alleged constitutional violation because of the act in this it went contrary to the secular ideals while wanting to grant citizenship when it comes to religious affiliation. The Indian Muslims, a minority community in Hindu-majority India, started to feel insecure and considered themselves as targets from the act and the proposed moves. All other political parties, no matter ideologies, also started protesting vehemently due on the constitutional violation and communal politics. From the beginning the Union Government as well as the state governments with the North Eastern states looked over the movement as unwarranted, since they consistently affirmed that every of CAA, NRC, NPR are for your ultimate good in the Indian citizens, and so they immediately dedicated to the initial violence committed by some miscreants throughout the movement to castigate the vested elements plus the opposition political parties for misdirecting or misguiding people sitting on protest for blatant political capital. They refused to just accept that people comprising students, artistes, intellectuals, advocates, farmers, women, parties/activists no matter what ideologies and common folks cannot wind up being continually ‘misguided’ by any vested interest. Besides, the opposition political parties of Assam as well as the North East usually are not much loved from the people and they also were rejected with the people inside the earlier decades for misdeeds.
Now about ‘religious persecution’, the newly coined term introduced inside act; this happens to be limited to some religions including Hinduism prominently. Why the us government is suddenly bothered about ‘persecuted minorities’ in a couple of carefully selected countries? Apparently, this can be being viewed as vote-bank electoral politics to polarize people along religious lines; the leading stakes being the assembly election in 2021 in West Bengal the place where a prominent part of Hindu immigrants will be benefited by CAA then in Assam as well as other NE states the place that the party has effectively established their rule. Besides, as you move the concern around the ‘persecuted minorities’ in Pakistan and Afghanistan may be justified to some extent exactly the same in Bangladesh is wrought with dubiousness. During the Pakistani invasion inside then East Pakistan in 1971 persecution of Hindus there might have been a worry, but within the decades there’s been no evidence of similar repression of minorities. The Bangladeshi influx since pre-independence days has always been no matter religions as both Muslim and Hindu immigrants maintained coming to India, possibly caused by economic reasons.
The government has become saying the many while about the individuals being misguided, but on the part they’ve already miserably neglected to give specific clarifications regarding why the minorities in India, the threatened communities in Indian states, the secular-spirited people on the country should never at all worry. Why, do they afford to keep Bangladesh out from the ambit on the CAA, since there is no proof religious persecution of minorities there and Bangladesh remains a friendly neighbor? Hardly, thanks for the momentous ‘electoral’ repercussions with the Hindutva elements that might possibly emanate from this omission. This also puts selecting only a number of particular countries and a couple of particular religions within the ambit from the act under scrutiny.
Assam cannot turnaround for the now, till the worries concerning threatened existence are amiably meted. The Supreme Court hearing on CAA petitions is determined for 22nd January, 2020, and folks are putting their hope solely on that top authority of justice. People referred to as their leaders assert the Assam Movement 2.0 is defined to be a long-term long-drawn one without the need of specific results expected. They have forsaken the wintertime festivals, the picnics, other styles of celebrations and in some cases their harvest festival the Magh or Bhogali Bihu coming in a couple of days is great uncertainty. Leaders are emphasizing though: students must pursue their studies on; employees/professionals must carry on his or her livelihood activities; development work mustn’t be interrupted, and after ensuring every one of these they must sit dedicated and committed for the movement-on almost an every day basis. The Government must cast their arrogance away while focusing on doing good to your very individuals who had elected them on high hopes, and must look for a long-term solution as opposed to going for short-term measures like grant of Inner Line Permits or executing certain provisions from the sixth schedule in the constitution in comparison to its welfare of certain tribes with the region. Assam, again, find herself with the crossroads, and what possibly might be a turning point from the history on the state, so we fervently hope they achieve their democratic victory as quickly as possible.