Statement issued by Shri L.K. Advani
Working Chairman, National Democratic Alliance (NDA)At a press conference in Guwahati on July 31, 2012
Congress collusion in massive Bangladeshi infiltration is the root cause of recurring violence in Assam
Appeal to all parties for a national consensus on a four-point solution
I visited Kokrajhar and other violence-hit areas in the Bodo areas of Assam. My heart goes to the victims of the recent violence. I convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed in the violent incidents, and also to the large number of people of who have been rendered homeless. I visited both Bodo and non-Bodo relief camps.
I wholeheartedly agree with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, who visited Assam on July 28, that the riots that rocked Assam is a kalank (blot) on the face of our nation. I also agree with him that the guilty must be punished.
However, I would urge the Prime Minister, the Congress president as well as the Chief Minister of Assam to do some honest introspection on where the real guilt lies. Firstly, isn’t the Congress government in the state guilty because of its criminal delay in responding to the worsening situation in and around Kokrajhar, even though there were plenty of clear indications of imminent conflicts? Secondly, aren’t the UPA government at the Centre and the Congress government in the state also guilty because of their persistent, conscious and deliberate inaction in the face of the root cause of the conflicts — namely, the massive influx of infiltration of Bangladeshis into Assam, including in Bodo areas?
The answer to both questions is in the affirmative.
Therefore, the Congress deserves to be punished for its collusion in the massive influx of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which has caused and exacerbated three serious problems in Assam:
(a) the land problem; Indigenous Assamese people are losing control of their land — Satra Land, forest land, grazing land and tribal land —, while illegal Bangladeshis have embarked on a large-scale 'land-grab' policy;
(b) the ethnic problem; Bodos are feeling threatened that they would be marginalised in their own lands;
(c) the problem of Assam’s population profile: the native residents of Assam are feeling that they are being squeezed out and disempowered by the immigrant population.
The combined effect of these three problems is the threat to India’s very unity, integrity and security. After all, the Supreme Court, in its July 2005 verdict which struck down IMDT Act as “unconstitutional”, had warned that the large-scale infiltration from Bangladesh constituted “external aggression” against Assam. The apex court had also urged the Central Government to take effective steps to stop the influx of Bangladeshis. In the past seven years, the UPA government has done nothing to honour the court’s directive. Obviously, the Congress party’s votebank politics has triumphed over its weakening concern for India’s unity and integrity.
I would like to refer here to some observations made by Shri H.S. Brahma, Election Commissioner of India, from an article he wrote in the Indian Express on July 28, 2012.
“The recent ethnic clashes between Hindu Bodos and Muslim immigrants, which occurred in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts of lower Assam (BTAD), were unfortunate. However, the clashes were not wholly unexpected. The question that is generally asked is: why did it take a few decades to occur in the first place? Assam has been virtually sitting on a huge tinderbox. ..It has been alleged by knowledgeable persons that out of the 27 districts in Assam, 11 of them are going to be Muslim majority districts once the 2011 census figures, religion-wise, are published by the census authorities….The systematic grabbing of government lands and the steady encroachment of denuded forest areas by illegal immigrants and non-indigenous communities have created serious differences among the local indigenous populations…Even the Election Commission of India is not immune to this problem. It has to tackle the problem of D-Voters (doubtful voters)... People who are found to be illegal migrants by these tribunals should be deported. Unless this basic issue of illegal migration into the country is resolved, the problem is bound to recur from time to time and in place to place.”
On behalf of the BJP and the NDA, I wish to make it categorically clear that the problem that Assam is facing is not a Hindu vs. Muslim conflict. Rather, it is clearly a conflict between Indian nationals vs. foreigners. We believe that a distinction must be made between native Muslims in Assam and foreigners who have infiltrated into Assam and other parts of India. The latter cannot claim protection, much less the same rights, as Indians, Hindu or Muslim, tribal or non-tribal.
The time has come to find a durable and effective solution to the problem that Assam has been recurrently facing, often in its violent anifestations. The solution, in my view, has four elements:
I appeal to the governments at the Centre and in Assam, as also all political parties, to show a sense of urgency in creating a national consensus on the above-mentioned four-point solution.