Guwahati, Mustafa Khaddam Hussain, Main Uddin: Bangladesh and Bangladeshi are words which became the hotbed for every politician in North East Indian State Assam in the Early 80’s. Bangladesh is a small country which officially known as ” People’s Republic of Bangladesh”. It gets independent on 26 March 1971. I have to travel on the time machine to see the geographical location of present Bangladesh as this location was an integral part of India till 1947 before the partition (India). Present days, West Bengal (Indian state), Whole Bangladesh (except Chittagong hill), part of Assam (undivided Sylhet, Goalpara) , a part of Nepal, and a part of Bhutan were called Bengal. According to The Decisive Battles of India by George Bruce Malleson(1883) says that 25000 supporters of Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah had migrated for their lives risk to undivided Goalapara district(Pre partition boundary) in the Ahom-Kamata Kingdom in 1757. On request of the Ahom king Gourinath Singh, British officer Captain Thomas Wales brought 550 well trained Bengali soldiers to re-capture Ahom kingdom which was captured by Mowamarias in 1792. After re-capture the Ahom capital in the same year, a few had left to Kolkata along with Thomas Wales. According to the book ” Medieval and Early Colonial Assam” by Amalendu Guha, there was a truce (MOU) had been signed between Gourinath Singh and Captain Thomas Wales via which British subjects could settle Ahom kingdom in regained Kamata part (undivided Goalpara district). The time is going on and British had captured Whole Ahom kingdom by defeating Burmese soldiers and the truce was signed in Treaty of Yandabo (1826).
After Treaty of Yandabo, the Zamindars (landlord) of Goalpara (which was previously captured by British 1816) had started bringing people from undivided Bengal province of British India to work on their cultivating firms. An official Farman (decree) was published by Bengal province ruler by ordering poor people to migrate to another part of the same province(Assam) in 1853. According to the ” The New Regime” by AC Bannerjee, Zamindars of Goalpara region had brought approx 500000 people from Bengal province. It is mentioned that Kamata was an administrative unit for the first time in the 17th century when it was called Sarkar Dhekuri under the Bengal Subah of the Mughals. After the transfer of the Bengal Diwani to the East India Company, the Goalpara region, minus the Assam Dooars, then under Bhutan, came to be called Rangamatty, and after 1816, “Northeast Rangpur”. When the British constituted this as a district in 1833 it came to be known after its headquarters which was in Goalpara town. A portion of the Assam Dooars areas was added to Goalpara district after the Bhutan war of 1865. After the Sepoy revolt(1857), A large number of well-educated people had been brought to Assam to support British in official works. Due to the water transportation shortcut path, A group middle class people from Bengal province had come to Assam for business purpose and they had permanently settled in Assam. The colonial British administrators suggested to the British government of the alluvial flat wasteland of Assam through the settlement of the cultivators of Bengal province in different times, so that these Bengali cultivators could raise the raw jute for export to England to feed Use jute mills set up there in 1829. In 1835 Francis Jenkins submitted a colonization scheme in the vast land of Assam to the government. The purpose of The scheme was to raise the agricultural produce for export and thus increase revenue for the government. Again in 1874 and 1881, the Commissioner of Assam suggested a settlement of Bengali people in the good flat alluvial soil of Assam. At first, the proposal was declined but Sir Henry J. Cotton, the Commissioner of Assam put forwards a scheme in 1896 for jute cultivation in the wasteland of Assam by settling the of Bengali cultivators. The great earthquake in Bengal (1897) created a crisis among people and wealthless people accepted the government’s proposals and came to Assam. The total number is not recognized by officially but historians doubt, it may be 10000000 (1 million). The commissioner of Mymensingh A.J. Moffatt Mills had ordered the landless people to cultivate wasteland in Assam under the ‘Colonisation Scheme’in 1906 after the Bengal divided. The bringing people from Bengal province was continuing till 1942 under the leadership of Sir Sayed Sadullah via “grow more food scheme”. The report was not supported by data but C.S. Mullan, the Superintendent of Census(Assam) had mentioned in his report that approx 2 M people were brought to Assam from other provinces in 1931. However, the migration is not stopped till 1971 but the margin is not large.
MYTH AND REALITY OF BANGLADESHI INFILTRATION TO ASSAM (INDIA)
You are well aware about the fact that the issue of illegal Bangladeshi in Assam is once again raising day by day. The people belonging to the minority community are discriminately being branded as illegal migrants and harassed since long time. Due to the social, educational and economic backwardness these genuine Indian citizens are not able to beg justice from the Court of Law. During these days…also, these people are not well aware about the fundamental rights guaranteed under the various Articles of our Constitution and other statutory rights available to the citizens of India. Majority of these people are the victims of the devastating flood and erosion on the bank of river Brahmaputra and its Tributaries. Due to the devastating flood and erosion thousands of revenue villages merged into the river beds. The flood and erosion victims move towards the urban areas to earn living bread as Rickshaw Pullers, bonded labourers and house workers etc. Unfortunately, these genuine Indian citizens are being branded as the illegal immigrants and harassed. Temporary embankments are being constructed on the bank of river Brahmaputra and its Tributaries to check the devastating flood and erosion. But, these embankments are not adequate to control the flood and erosion. Rather, the constructions are the instruments for the leaders, contractors and middlemen to earn huge money every year. The land owners, over which land the temporary embankments are being constructed not paid adequate compensation. Rather, the land owner loss the ownership rights over the own land. Once the land merged on the river bed the ownership rights are automatically cancelled even though the land re-emerges after some times.
The atrocities have reached climax when the family members of Syed Abdul Malik, Dr. Moidul Islam Bora and Arif Ali were charged as the Bangladeshis. Syed Abdul Malik was an Ex-Member of Parliament, former President of Asom Sahitya Sabha (Highest Literary body in Assam) and his forefathers were freedom fighters. Dr. Moidul Islam Bora was also happened to be former President of Asom Sahitya Sabha and his ancestors were the Ministers during Ahom rule in Assam. Mr. Arif Ali was the Chairman of Assam Public Service Commission. These insulting raids of Assam police came into limelight only because the affected people were the relatives of famous personalities. Countless similar cases of harassment and atrocities are done to hundreds of illiterate, unconscious, poor and downtrodden Muslims’™ everyday but they are unnoticed.
2. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF MUSLIMS IN ASSAM
The Muslims came to Kamrup (now Assam) in the year 1206 from Bengal under the legendary figure Muhammad-Bin-Bakhtiar Khilji, the General of Muhammad Ghouri crossing the river Manas. Muhammad Bakhtiar Khilji made an unsuccessful assault on territory of Assam in the year 1206 A.D. This took place before the Ahoms came to Assam. This was followed by Ghys Uddin, a Governor of Bengal, in the early part of 13th century. The next invasion was that of Iktyar Uddin Yusbek Tughril Khan in 1257 A.D. which was followed by an invasion by Mohammad Shah in 1337 A.D. by about one lakh horsemen.
He came to Kamrup (now Assam) for second time in the year 1212 A.D. He attacked different smaller kingdoms including the then Ahom king Prethu with the help of his commander Nasir Uddin, who later on also became a ruler. He established a small kingdom in and around Hajo. His later Commander-in Chief Izaz Khan went upto Nagaon. Thereafter the descendants of Bakhtiar Khilji which includes Sultan Gias Uddin Aulia ruled at Kamrup the then Assam. The graveyard of Sultan Gias Uddin Aulia still exists at Hajo with some of his contemporary rulers and generals. The graveyard is popularly known as Pua Mecca(Pua in Assamese language means one fourth) Dargah at Hajo. During their rule (kingdom) they assimilated with local people, married here which resulted in growth of Muslim population in Assam.
The Muslims are the second original inhabitant of Assam next to Bodo, Kachari, Chutia, Dimasa etc. because of the fact that the Ahoms (Assamese people) came to Assam in 13th century in and about the year 1228 A.D. from upper Burma crossing the Patkai Hill Ranges. They are of Mangoloid origin being a member of Shan sub-section of the Indo-Chinese family people. They embraced Hindu religion only in the 17th century when the Brahmins and other priestly classes of Hindus from different parts of India particularly Bengal, Orissa and Kanauj started to flocking into Assam. Hussain Shah, the Sultan of Bengal conquered kamata State or western Assam in1448 A.D. and continued his ruling (administration) till 1519. Mirjumla, the General of Aurangazeb, invaded Assam in 1662. Later on, a treaty was signed in between Ahoms and Mughals on 1st January, 1663 by Ahom king Jaioddhaj Singha and he surrendered a vast territory to Mughals like west of the river Barnadi on the north bank of Brahmaputra and West Kalang river on the southern bank. Ahom king Gadadhar Singha later on in 1682 could regain some portions of that land but the then Goalpara district remained under the control of Mughals with rest of Bengal till 1765, when it was brought under the control of East India Company.
Thus, first migration of Muslims to Assam took place as early as in the 12th century. Not all the Muslims came from outside. A huge number of local people embraced Islam on their own accord, for which Muslim saints and Pirs whose Dargahs and Mazars abound in different parts of Assam including Pua Mecca of Hajo, Azan Fakir Dargah are mainly responsible.
3. CREATION OF THE STATE OF ASSAM
The state of Assam came into existence in the year 1874 again in 1912. This present day territorial Assam, as we know it today was not in existence in pre-British period. There were princely states such as Ahom, Koch, Kachari, Khasi, Jaintia etc. In 1765, the undivided Bangla (Bengal) came into the hands of East India Company together the erstwhile Goalpara district which was a part of Bengal. This Goalpara district (now divided into 4 districts) forms a part of present day Assam. Hence, relative presence of Bengali speaking people in this part of Assam can be traced much before the entry of Biritish when the Assam was handed over to the British through Yandabu Treaty in 1826 and the province of Assam organized 1874 was divided into two administrative units viz. Brahmaputra Valley and Surma Valley. In 1905 Dacca (Dhaka), Chittagong, Rajshahi and Malda together with present Brahmaputra Valley was put under one administrative unit with East Bengal, so, the people of the territory of now included in Bangladesh had easy excess and many of them settled in the territory of present Assam till1912, when Assam was bifurcated from East Bengal and again Assam came into existence with a status of a separate province.
The credit for preaching Islam in upper Assam goes to Muslim religious saint, popularly known as Azan Fakir, who came to Assam in approximately 1635 AD from Baghdad. He acquired a congenial atmosphere for propagating unity between the two religious groups i.e. Hindus and Muslims. The other factor for spread of Islam in Assam was the Muslim war prisoners who were allowed to settle in Assam during various reigns. Their presence in Assam attracted people towards the humanitarian values prevailing amongst them. The local people were impressed by the equality, simplicity, logic behind the religious chief and way of life resulting good numbers of conversion to Islam.
4. IMMIGRATION TO THE STATE OF ASSAM
Immigrant Muslims came to Assam from East Bengal particularly the then Mymensingh district (undivided India) much before the rise of philosophical idea of Pakistan. These people did not come to Assam according to their own will. Rather they were influenced, pressurized and patronized by the British for migration. The Muslims of East Bengal were very hard working and poor. The reason behind the migration of immigrant Muslims was the fertile land of Brahmaputra Valley and inability of the indigenous people to use the fertile land for cultivation. The migrants from East Bengal converted deep jungles into smiling agricultural fields. In the early 1900 A.D., the British provided family ticket of Rs.5/- from Dhaka to anywhere in Assam to facilitate easy travelling of entire family. Even after the formation of Assam state in the pre-independence period a large number of poor landless Bengali speaking Muslim peasants were settled in Assam from the adjoining districts of erstwhile East Bengal under ‘œLine System’ introduced in 1920 in erstwhile Kamrup, Nagaon and Darrang districts of Assam. As such, the presence of Bengali speaking Muslims can be traced in the history of the formation of the state of Assam and subsequent incidents. The migration of cultivators from East Bengal into Assam continued till the time of partition of India in the year 1947. It is a matter of record that immigration of Muslims from East Bengal into Assam stopped in the 1947. There is no reason why they should come here as the borders are guarded. Migration of people in large numbers in large numbers was simply impossible unless we assume that all our policemen in the border posts remain asleep for 24 hours or they are in league with these immigrants.
The immigrant Muslims were settled on the bank of river Brahmaputra and its tributaries for easy irrigation and converted deep jungles into smiling agricultural fields. They started to cultivate jute, rice, cons and other varieties of agricultural products. These were the raw materials for the British to establish industries in Manchester and in other cities. Due to their settlement on the bank of river Brahmaputra and its tributaries, these immigrant people are the victims of flood and erosion which make them roofless and landless. They turn to urban areas to earn bread and butter and they are being branded Bangladeshi National.
The British brought the tea tribes people from Orissa and Jharkhand and engaged them in the tea gardens. The Marwaris came to Assam for trade and Assam. Until 1912 Calcutta (now Kolkata) was the capital of British India. The Bengali Hindus were more attracted to Govt. jobs and administrative works. One British officer namely, Captain J.B. Nenfvile introduced the system of Tahsildars who were all natives of Bengal. In this way Bengali Hindus entered Assam. They filled the administrative posts to start with. With and enormous advantage of studying in British schools and colleges, they moved swiftly into profession where they soon dominated.
The imposition of the Bengali language was not the design of Bengalis but of the British imperialist. It had in fact been purely British design. As per 1931 census, the percentage Assamese speaking people was 36%. However, it shoot out abnormally to 62% in 1971 as the vast section of immigrant Muslims though their original mother tongue was Bengali, recorded Assamese as their mother tongue in the census. Their children are studying in Assamese medium schools. Even after showing their willingness to mix up with the majority community accepting their language and culture they are being targeted as foreign nationals.
5. ASSAM AGITATION (1979-1985)
Elections were held in Assam along with rest of India in 1951, 1957, 1962, 1971 and 1977-1978. There were many Election petitions in the High Court and even in Supreme Court. Nobody has ever raised the question that there were foreigners in Assam or in voter lists. During the period from 1962 to 1970, the police personnel entered into the minority dominated villages at dark night and picked up and genuine Indian citizens as being Pakistani (now called Bangladeshi) without giving any opportunity of defending themselves. Hiralal Patowary, MP from Mangodoi died in 1978 and a rumor spread that Mrs. Indira Gandhi would contest from Mangaldoi. Overnights a cry for the first time in the history of Assam was raised that there were lakhs and lakhs of foreigners in Assam and in the voter list. Due to death of Hiralal Patowary bye-election was held in April 1979 in Mangaldoi. In the Bye-Election revised electoral Roll was prepared after deleting names of thousands of voters as alleged as foreigners. This is the beginning of Assam agitation. Rest is till today only politics.
The Assam agitation was led by the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP). Initially the agitation was against the outsiders (Bohiragata Kheda), and later on it became anti foreigners (Bidehi kheda) and finally anti Bangladeshi (Bangladeshi kheda). The agitation was guided by the chauvinist forces. The leaders of movement claimed the existence of lakhs of foreign nationals which in fact almost equals the total number of minority people in Assam at that time. The leaders of the movement roused passion amongst the Assamese people by wrongly painting a picture by saying that lakhs of foreign nationals are entering everyday through the border and as such Assamese people would soon become minority in their own home land and they would lose their language and culture. Giving birth to such an atmosphere the forces of the movement butchered thousands of innocent people belonging to minority communities at Nellie, Mukalmua, Gahpur, Chawlkhua and in many other places clearly showing that the culture of the movement was based on racial hatred.
6. LOSSES OF LIVES DURING ASSAM AGITATION
As per the statement made by the then Union Minister of State for Home Affairs on the floor of parliament, during the period from August, 1979 to January, 1980, 78 numbers of persons had lost their lives in the wake of Assam agitations. There were 120 cases of arsoning, 127 cases of assault with weapon. Moreover 32000 houses of 40 villages were gutted making 150000 people homeless. In the year 1980 there were 198 cases of murders, 654 cases of assault, 259 cases of arsoning and the total numbers of such crimes relating to agitation was 1613 as per official report. In the year 1981 there were 51 cases of murder, 193 cases of arsoning and the total incident of crimes were 387. In the year 1982, there were 18 cases of murder, 22 cases of arsoning and the total numbers of crimes relating to the movement was 386. Such violence continued in a scattered manner till January, 1983 when it took a serious turn because of holding of General Election in the State of Assam. As per the official reports submitted by the Govt. of Assam before Commission of Enquiry appointment by Government, headed by Sri Tribhubhan Prasad Tiwary, during the period from January, 1983 to April, 1983 there were cases of murder of 3023 persons, arsoning of 15131 dwelling houses, 455 officials buildings, 99 cases of damages of vehicle and 545 cases of damages of bridges in the State of Assam. On 18th January, 1980 Dr. Robin Mitra, an internationally reputed scientist of Oil India Ltd, Duliajan (Assam) was brutally killed. Almost at the same time, Dr. Anjan Chakrabarty was also brutally killed in Gauhati Medical College. On 6th April, 1981 Mr. E.S. Parthasarathi, IAS, Commissioner of Upper Assam Division was killed by a bomb explosion in his office room at Jorhat (Assam). To bring the situation under control the Govt. of Assam had to promulgate The Assam Executive Magistrate (Temporarily Powers) Act, 1983; The Assam Special Powers (Press) Act, 1960; The Assam Disturb Areas Act, 1955; Arm Forces (Assam & Manipur) Special Powers Act, 1968 and The Assam Maintenance of Public Order Act, 1847. The picture of situation in the Assam during the six year long agitation can be gauged from above.
7. MASSACRE OF 1983
During February 1983, according to one estimate nearly 10,000 people lost their lives, thousands of people were uprooted and properties worth crores destroyed. This tragedy had its repercussions and the affected people still insecure at their houses. As per Government records 1819 persons belonging to religious minority community were brutally killed during six hour period starting from morning on 18.02.1983 at fourteen villages of Nagaon (now Morigaon district). The villages are Nellie, Alisingha, Khulapathar, Basundhari, Bugduba Beel, Bugduba Habi, Borjola, Butuni, Indurmari, Mati Parbat, Muladhari, Pati Parbat No.8, Silbheta and Borburi, It is relevant to mentioned here that 688 numbers of criminal cases were filed in connection with Nellie organized massacre and of these only 310 cases were charge sheeted. The remaining 378 cases were closed due to the police claim of ‘œlack of evidence’. But all the 310 charge sheeted cases were dropped by the subsequent Govt. as a part of Assam Accord, 1985; therefore not a single person has even had to face trial for the gruesome massacre. The massacre of minority people of Nellie created a feeling of bitterness and mistrust in communal relations. It remains an enigma as to how such communal frenzies could took place in spite of the wireless message sent by the officer-in-charge of the Nowgang (now Nagaon) Police Station to the Commandant of the 5th Battalion of Assam Police situated within 10 kms from the Nellie area three days before the incident. The actual words of the telegrams were as follows:
CO : 5th AP.
INFO : O/C/J/Road PS/SDPO (M)
From : O/C NWG PS (.) Dt. 15.2.83.
‘Information received that L/Night about one thousand Assamese of surrounding villages of Nellie with deadly weapons assembled at Nellie by beating of drums. Minority people are in panic and apprehending attack any moment. Submission for immediate action to maintain peace.’
Even after that initial shock, it was not the communal forces alone who marched against the so-called foreigners. The Assamese villagers joined out of fear or hatred, patriotism or a thirst of revenge. There are also reports from reliable sources that a section of Para-military forces joined the attacks on immigrants in some areas. Daya Nath Sharma, brother of Jaynath Sharma (later became Cabinet Minister) was killed during an attack on immigrants when he was heading a crowd of attackers at Chaulkhua char. The Chauvanist forces forced the AASSU and AAGSP to form a para-military organization called Swechcha Sevak Bahini (SSB) was headed by Jaynath Sharma as Sarva Adhinaik (Supreme Commander). The agitation leaders had declared that by forming the SSB, they are only defending themselves from the attack of the minorities. Yet the question remains, were the minorities in a position to attack such a formidable majority in Assam.
According to famous journalist namely Mr. Shankar Gupta, the Brahmaputra Valley was turned into a valley of death and smell of blood reminded visitors of the brutal atrocities let loose on the innocent minorities in Assam. The mass murder in the entire Brahmaputra Valley was literally a holocaust. After visiting the affected areas of Assam, after Nellie massacre, Mr. Shankar Gupta of the ‘œIndian Express’ wrote: ‘œThere is no life around, save for the hungry flocks of vultures’¦’¦’¦human skeletons totally devoid of flesh.’ (New Delhi 14.03.1983). Mr. Gupta further said that ‘œmost people fear fresh attacks as soon as they return. Near Khoirabari, I have overheard a group of youth light heartedly tell Jawans of Border Security Force (BSF), we will not be here forever. We have only done half of the job by sending the foreigners to camps. The other half remains to be done.’
After the massacre of 1983, ‘œTiwary Commission’ was appointed to enquire into the matter. The Commission inquired into the matter and submitted detailed report before the Govt. Unfortunately, the report of the Tiwary Commission has not been published as on date due to unknown reasons. The report Tiwary Commission is vital to unearth the culprits of the massacre.
8. ASSAM ACCORD, 1985
A Memorandum of Settlement popularly known as Assam Accord was signed on 15.08.1985 amongst the leaders of Assam Agitation, Central Govt. and Assam Govt. in the presence of Late Prime Minister Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. The Accord was signed by Mr. R D Pradhan (Home Secretary, Govt. of India), Smti. P. P. Trivedi (Chief Secretary, Govt. of Assam), Mr. P. K. Mahanta (President, AASU), Mr. B. K. Phukan (General Secretary, AASU) and Biraj Kumar Sharma (Convener, AAGSP). The Assam Accord stipulated that 25th March, 1971 should be cut off date for detection of foreign nationals and the detection will have to be done through judicial process for which Tribunals were set up. The leaders of the Assam Agitation formed a political party namely Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) on 14.10.1985 in a convention at Golaghat. The AGP come to power in the election of 1985 and took up the task of the detection of foreign nationals as their number one programme. It instructed all police stations to extensively search doubtful foreign nationals in all corners of the state. The police lodged complaint against 2,87,625 persons but ultimately after being served by proper authority judged by the Tribunals 8,694 persons were declared as foreign nationals, many of whom could not appear before the tribunal due to extreme poverty and illiteracy.
If there was no alternative other than the accord, why it was not arrived at before the massacre of 1983. It is an admitted fact that same accord could have been arrived at in 1980 or in 1982. If those opportunities had not bee4n missed, the immense bloodshed occasioned in early 1983 could have been avoided. It is general presumption that many of agitation leaders were not able to contest election prior to 1985 owing to the fact that they were less than 25 years of age.
9. ILLEGAL MIGRANTS (DETERMINATION BY TRIBUNAL) ACT, 1983
The IM (DT) Act was enacted by the Parliament of India to prevent atrocities on the genuine Indian Citizens. The IM (DT) Act provided some sort of relief to the genuine Indian Citizens who are being harassed as foreigners in the State of Assam. However, the Supreme Court has struck down the IM (DT) Act, 1983 by Judgment and Order dated 12.07.2005 passed in W.P. (C) No.131/2000 (Sorbananda Sonowal ‘vs- Union of India & Ors.) and further directed to transfer all the cases pending before the IM (D) Tribunal to the Foreigners Tribunal. The Jamiat Ulema-E-Hind approached the Supreme Court by way of filing a Writ Petition being W.P. (C) No.7/2001 (Jamiat Ulema-E-Hind ‘Vs- Union of India) praying for necessary direction to the Government to apply IM (DT) Act throughout India but the Supreme Court dismissed the petition on 20.10.2005. After struck down of the IM (DT) Act the Government of India passed Foreigners Tribunal (Amendment) Order, 2006 to prevent atrocities on the genuine Indian Citizens but the Supreme Court has struck down the amendment order 2006 vide Judgment and Order dated 05.12.2006 passed in W.P. (C) No.117/2006 (Sarbananda Sonowal ‘vs- Union of India & Ors.)
10. DOUBTFUL/DISPUTED VOTERS
During the riot of 1950 when thousands of Muslims were made homeless and many hundreds were killed there was general fear and consternation among the Muslims. This was an additional factor against migration of Muslims. The riot of 1950 was so colossal considering the small of Assam that even according to the government record 53 thousand Muslim families were displaced and they had to be rehabilitated in implementation of the Indo-Pak Agreement of April, 1950 when the official records speak of 53 thousand families it can be easily imagined how many other thousand people were disposed because of the Communal riots in Assam. It is a common Knowledge that the 1951census did not include all these thousands of families who had not come back and resettle in their original place afterwards.
Unfortunately, without considering these factors, some people want to rely on the so called National Register of Citizen (NRC) of 1951 to find out whether a person is an Indian citizen. It is also on record that about six lakhs of Indian Muslims were expelled from India on the allegation of they are being foreigners during 1962-1965. Mangaldoi episode of 1979 and allegations brought by the Assam agitation leaders are the origin of the menace of Doubtful/ Defective voters.
In the year 1994 several writ petitions were filed before the Gauhati High Court being Civil Rule Nos: 1566, 1616, 1856 and 2814 of 1994 (HRA Choudhury & Ors Vs. The Election Commission of India & Ors) praying for necessary direction to include the names of those persons whose names were deleted from the Electoral Roll for 10 years in pursuance of Assam Accord, 1995. The High Court dismissed all the writ petitions. Later on the Supreme Court upheld the Judgment and Order of the High Court vide Judgment and Order dated 05.05.1994 in Civil Appeal Nos- 4171-4180 0f 1994 arising out of SLP (Civil) Nos- 2484-85 of 1994 (H R A Choudhury & Ors Vs. The Election Commission of India & Ors). The Election Commission of India by letter No.23/96/P.S.-II dated 17.10.1996 ordered the intensive revision of Electoral Rolls of the entire 126 Assembly Constituency in the state of Assam with reference to 01.01.1997 as the qualifying date in pursuance of the Supreme Court’™s Judgment and Order dated 05.05.1994. The Election Commission of India by letter No.23/AS/96 dated 04.02.1997 issued guidelines to be followed by the Electoral Registration Officer and other concern Officials in drawing up the Electoral Rolls. The Election Commission of India by letter No.23/AS/96 dated 17.07.1997 issued further direction to be followed while preparing revised Electoral Roll in the State of Assam. Subsequently The Election Commission of India by letter No.23/AS/96 Vol.III dated 12.11.1997 directed that the names of such persons whose cases have been referred to appropriate tribunals may provisionally included in the Electoral Roll, but, before final publication, the letter ‘œD’ meaning Doubtful/ Disputed may be indicated against each such names in the electoral Roll to denote that their citizenship status doubtful / disputed and finally the Election Commission of India by letter No. 23/AS/96 Vol.III dated 06.12.1997 directed that the Electoral Rolls of all 126 Assembly Constituencies in the State of Assam should be published finally on 09.12.1997 and accordingly the electoral rolls was published on 09.12.1997 inserting ‘œD’ mark for the first time in the State of Assam. Initially the ‘œD’ voters were allowed to cast their votes in each and every election in the State of Assam but the Election Commission of India by letter No. 23/AS/96 Vol.III dated 05.01.1998 ordered that the persons, whose citizenship status is doubtful/disputed shall not be allowed to cast their votes, shall likewise be ineligible to contest any election to either House of the Parliament or to the Legislature of any State till the determination of the case of such person in his favour by the appropriate Tribunal.
11. DETENTION CAMPS
The concept of Detention Camp came in to existence in India while 1,500 Indian Chinese who were picked up from Makum (Assam) and sent to a detention camp in Deoli, Rajasthan, while India and China battled in 1962. The Govt. of Assam has established 3 (three) detention camps at Goalpara, Kokrajhar and Silchar to detain the persons who have been declared to be foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunals. In all most all cases the persons who are declared to be foreigners are socially, educationally and economically very backward. The cases are being decided ex-parte because of the fact that majority of such persons are not able to contest the case and engaged counsels due to poor economic status. According to the recent statement given by the Chief Minister of Assam in the Assam Legislative Assembly that in total 148 persons are detain the detention camp out of which 94 persons are male and 54 persons are female. This data is up to 15.04.2011 and later on many more people have been detained in the detention camps. It is relevant to mention here that several numbers of minor children and milk sucking baby are also kept in the detention camps which is not permissible in any form of law. The infrastructure and condition of detention camps are very deplorable. The detained persons are being deprived of their fundamental rights without any lawful authority.
12. CASES IN THE GAUHATI HIGH COURT AND SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Initially several writ petitions were filed before the Gauhati High Court being Civil Rule Nos: 1566, 1616, 1856 and 2814 of 1994 (H R A Choudhury & Ors Vs. The Election Commission of India & Ors) praying for necessary direction to include the names of those persons whose names were deleted from the Electoral Roll for 10 years in pursuance of Assam Accord, 1985. The High Court dismissed all the writ petitions. Later on the Supreme Court upheld the Judgment and Order of the High Court vide Judgment and Order dated 05.05.1994 in Civil Appeal Nos- 4171-4180 0f 1994 arising out of SLP (Civil) Nos- 2484-85 of 1994 (H R A Choudhury & Ors Vs. The Election Commission of India & Ors). In the year 1998 the several Writ Petitions were filed in the Gauhati High Court being Civil Rule (PIL) No.185/1998 (H R A Choudhury & Another ‘Vs- The Election Commission of India) ; Civil Rule (PIL) No.253/1998 (Sadhan Chakroborty & Others ‘Vs- The Election Commission of India) and Civil Rule (PIL) No.254/1998 (Md. Abdul Kayam ‘Vs- The Election Commission of India) challenging the legality and validity of putting ‘œD’ marks in the electoral roll. The High Court vide Judgment and Order dated 11.01.2002 dismissed all the Writ Petitions thereby putting legal sanctity to the validity of putting ‘œD’ marks.
The Division Bench of Gauhati High Court vide Judgment and Order dated 01.02.2010 passed in W.A. No.238/2008 (Moslem Mondal & Others ‘Vs- The Union of India & Others) laid down certain guidelines to be followed while determining the cases by the Foreigners Tribunals. This Judgment has provided some sort of relief to the genuine Indian Citizens. However, the Government of Assam has preferred a review application being Rev. App. No.22/2010 (the State of Assam ‘Vs- Moslem Mondal & Others) in W.A. No.238/2008 (Moslem Mondal & Ors ‘Vs- The Union of India & Ors) for review/ alteration/ modification of the Judgment and Order dated 01.02.2010. The Chief Justice of the High Court has referred the review application along with other connected cases to a larger bench of the High Court. It is relevant to mention here that at the patronization of the political party of Assam, a Leave Petition being SLP (Civil) No.16819/2010 (Moslem Mondal & Others ‘Vs- The State of Assam & Others) was filed before the Supreme Court challenging the referral order to a larger bench of High Court. The Supreme Court vide Order dated 10.09.2010 dismissed the SLP at initial stage. This petition before the Supreme Court was totally uncalled for.
In the year 2009 a so-called social Organization of Assam filed a Writ Petition in the Supreme Court of India being W.P. (C) No.274/2009 (Assam Public Works ‘Vs- Union of India & Ors.) praying for necessary direction to delete the names of more than 40 lacs voters from the voter list in the State of Assam as being the illegal migrants. The contention made by the petitioner is totally false, fabricated and self manufacture. The matter is pending before the Supreme Court for final disposal.
Two Public Interest Litigations being PIL No.34/2010 (Chandra Kanta Mohanta & Others ‘vs- Union of India & Others) and PIL No.77/2010 (Indian Confederation of Indigenous & Tribal People & Others ‘Vs- Union of India and others) respectively have been filed in the Gauhati High Court challenging the constitutional validity of the Section 6 (A) of the Citizenship Act,1955. If the PIL are allowed by the High Court then Lacs of genuine Indian citizens will automatically become foreigners in the State of Assam. The PIL are pending for final disposal.
The learned Single Judge of Gauhati High Court passed an order in W.P. (C) No.1334/2009 (Mameza Khatun & Others ‘Vs- Union of India and others) thereby directed that all the persons whose case are pending in the Tribunals and whose names are mark as in the voter list shall be kept in detention camp till the determination of their Citizenship Status or deportation to Bangladesh. It may be mentioned here that the Government of Assam has filed an Appeal being W.A. No.114/2011 (The State of Assam ‘vs- Mameza Khatun & Others) challenging the order passed by the learned Single Judge in W.P. (C) No.1334/2009 (Mameza Khatun & Others ‘Vs- Union of India and others). The Division Bench of Gauhati High Court stayed the order passed by the learned Single Judge in W.P. (C) No.1334/2009 vide order passed in Writ Appeal No.114/2011.
Assam has more than 30% Muslims population, only next to Jammu & Kashmir, regarding Muslim percentage. This is only the cause of headache for the fundamentalist forces. They are hell bent to brand the Muslims as illegal Bangladeshi. Due to harassment, Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, 1983 was enacted by the Central government to protect the genuine Indian citizens. The Supreme Court has struck down the IM (DT) Act, 1983. This paves the way for refueling of fundamentalist forces to harass the Muslims. One must know the history to bitterly understand the reality of Bangladeshi infiltration. According to the fundamentalists, more than 80 lacs Bangladeshis are residing in Assam, means more than 80% of the Muslims are the Bangladeshi! A columnist of an Assamese daily written in a article that daily near about 6,000 Bangladeshis are illegally infiltrating to Assam. If 6000 Bangladeshis are daily infiltrating to Assam then the number Bangladeshis will stand on near about 20 crores in between 1991-2001. According to the 2001 census, the total population of Assam is near about 2 crores 67 lakhs; out of this 20 crores are illegal Bangladeshis! Bangladesh has less than 20 crores population; out of these 20 crores are illegal resident in Assam. The Census of 2001 is a slept on face of divisive forces because the population growth rate in Assam (1991-2001) is 18.92%, whereas the national population growth rate is 21.54%.
We have been fighting for constitutional and legal rights of this neglected class of Society who are being targeted time to time by some vested interested persons for achieving political mileage by branding them as Foreigners. The so called social activists are keeping the issue alive by hypothetical statements and on fanciful thoughts thereby made an effort to convince the whole world that lakhs of illegal migrants are residing in Assam and the migration is going on. It may be mentioned here that it is not the first occasion that a particular section of people are being targeted time to time by branding them as foreigners by initiating false and frivolous petitions before the Court of Law and by political pressure, these process is being carried out for last many years by some vested interest persons for their selfish gain. It is relevant to mention here that these particular people are belonging to economically, educationally and socially very backward category and some of them are belonging to labour class who are working as human bulldozers.