Illegal Bangladeshi Migrants Are Posing A Grave Threat To Assam’s Social Milieu

Jaideep Mazumdar

Mar 29, 2018, 06:58 PM | Updated 06:58 PM IST

Members of a student union take part in a demonstration against illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. (time8.in)
Members of a student union take part in a demonstration against illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. (time8.in)
  • Successive Congress regimes have patronised illegal Muslim migrants from Bangladesh by giving them citizenship documents and asking the police to turn a blind eye to their transgressions.
  • Unabated illegal migration from Bangladesh (and erstwhile East Pakistan) over the past century and more has drastically changed the demographic profile of Assam. This has resulted in the indigenous people of the state – Assamese as well as the many tribal groups – now facing the prospect of being reduced to a minority in their own state. What is not so well known, and still less acknowledged, is that the illegal Muslim migrants have become a major threat to the law and order situation in the state, and a social menace as well.

    The rape of five minor girls and the murder of one of them within a span of two weeks in Assam, all allegedly perpetrated by Muslims of doubtful nationality (read: Bangladeshis), have laid bare the fact that a majority of the crimes in Assam – ranging from rapes, molestations, murders, dacoities, thefts, abductions et al – are being carried out by these illegal Bangladeshi migrants and their descendants. Thanks to the protection and patronage they have been accorded by the past Congress regimes in the state, this large section of Bangladeshi Muslims have been embolden to commit crimes as they have been getting away with it.

    According to top Assam Police officers, statistics reveal that persons of doubtful nationality are behind most of the crimes – from petty to serious – being committed in the state. This is more so in the case of atrocities against women. What is more, the feeling of immunity from the law that has taken deep roots in them has led to a general deterioration in not only the law and order situation in the state, but also adversely affected Assam’s social milieu. The law-breaking Bangladeshi Muslims are setting a very bad example for people from other communities, say police officers.

    “Assamese people have always been docile, simple and law-abiding. Violence and crime had no place in society. People were gentle and crimes against women, except the stray case of domestic violence, were unheard of. Women were respected and society was liberal. That has changed now, especially in districts in lower and central Assam that have been more or less taken over by illegal migrants from Bangladesh,” said a top Assam Police officer, who did not want to be named for obvious reasons. What he left unsaid was that the illegal Bangladeshi Muslims in Assam, with their propensity to break the law, have set a very bad example for the other communities.

    Sociologists say that due to the social and family structures within the Bangladeshi Muslim community, the lack of respect for women among them, and the harsh conditions they have to survive in, their propensity to commit crimes is much more than others. “These people (the illegal Muslim migrants) are very poor and live in very harsh conditions, which make them aggressive. They know they are aliens in India and having broken the law by entering the country illegally and staying on, and thus they have little regard for the law. Their womenfolk are a highly exploited lot and a child in such a family grows up seeing his mother, aunts and sisters being ill-treated by the men of the family. So he is conditioned to treat women disrespectfully,” said Barnali Medhi, a teacher of sociology at Dibrugarh University.

    Dhirendranath Hazarika, an educationist who used to teach political science at Gauhati University, says that the desperate conditions these migrants stay in after entering Assam illegally erodes their morality. “It is a desperate struggle for survival for them. They have to battle poverty and also stay away from the notice of the authorities, hide their true identities and then resort to subterfuge and illegal means to get citizenship documents. Thus, they have scant respect for social morals and norms and for the law of the land. They know that if they are not aggressive, they will not be able to survive. This aggression takes many forms, and results in violation of the law,” he said.

    Hazarika makes an interesting observation that explains the conduct of these illegal Bangladeshi Muslim migrants. “They know that they can survive only if they are cohesive as a religious group. So they stick together and their numbers give them a lot of confidence. And out of this confidence emanates the feeling that they can violate the law. They feel they can get away with breaking the law. Take the case of the prime accused in the recent rape cases. They all felt they would get the protection of their community and their sheer numbers would act as their shields,” said Hazarika.

    Along with all this, the fact that successive Congress regimes have patronised them by giving them citizenship documents and leaning hard on the police to keep off them and turn a blind eye to their transgressions. This has encouraged these Bangladeshi Muslims to break the law. “In the past, they have been getting away with their illegal activities. The police were under strict instructions not to take action against criminals from this (Bangladeshi Muslim) community. Thus, they got emboldened to commit bigger crimes. Our interrogation of the prime accused in the recent rapes have brought this out very starkly. The culprits have confessed that they never imagined they would be caught and charged. They had reckoned they would be able to get away with their crimes,” said the senior police officer.

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    Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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