by Kiran KS, in http://indiawires.com/
Something terrible is happening as this column is being written, in the North Eastern part of India. This is not just a “routine” riot between two groups fighting each other, but much more impacting the nation in the long run. This is because of where it is happening, why it is happening and why it was not prevented. Since the information is still coming through as of this (July 25, 2012) evening, we will try to present on Indiawires as much clarity as we can, with the information we have gathered from 1000s of Kilometers away.
In Asom (Assam) state’s Kokrajhar district, a bloody riot broke out 5-6 days back. 42 people have died, 100s are injured, over 1,70,000 have fled homes to save lives, nearly two dozen trains stopped or attacked, 10s of 1000s of passengers are stranded and 100s of villages have seen burning or vandalizing of homes/buildings. As with any riot, more damage might get uncovered as things become more clear. This is an extremely serious situation and still no signs of things coming under control.
How effective was Indian media?
For any riot or violence, the fourth pillar of democracy is the most key eye. If they don’t cover or tell properly, most people would not know the intensity of devastation. In this case, for the first few days, there was hardly any mention. Even where there were feeble mentions, terms like “clash between tribes”, or “ethnic clash” was used. Majority of Indians would not have understood what was going on and who were involved.
But fortunately, most of the foreign media covered the real issue quite openly as they probably had no stake in suppressing the truth like most of the Indian mainstream TV or papers. BBC World has courage to tell that Kokrajhar violence is due to “Muslim Bengali Migrants” to Asom. Euro News told that Kokrajhar riot involves “Muslim Settlers”, something that India’s own government doesn’t openly talk about as to who are these “muslim settlers”. Bangkok Post in Thailand showed the pictures of helpless Bodo women leaving homes in Kokrajhar, unlike their Indian counterparts. Europe’s Irish Times showed pics of an injured lady Purnima Das and her fear-filled child from Kokrajhar, but not any Indian TV! The German paper Duetsche Welle had pics of Indian women suffering due to illegal Bangladeshis, which Indian papers censored as “ethnic” clashes. And kudos to IBTimes which gave the most clear headline, “Rioting In Assam Underscores Deepening Crisis Of ILLEGAL Migration From Bangladesh to India“. Unlike Indian journos who hid the “other party” in riots, even a Pakistani paper openly called them “Muslim settlers”! In India, only a very small section of the press, like the tiny Karbi language paper talked openly with a gory picture and on web, Firstpost which published some images.
The reason all those examples were given is because it is not like Indian media does not cover riots. Ask anyone about 2002 and you will remember how Indian print and electronic media were chest-beating 24*7. They are still doing it after 10 long years in some circles. Someone aptly asked on the social media to sum things up regarding the media kangaroo courts we have seen for years. So in Kokrajhar riots are going on unabated the 4th day now. 60,000 have fled homes, but YOU (directed at media) complained Modi didn’t act soon in Gujarat? Infact one of the leaders among Indian media talking about Gujarat riots, that is NDTV, had no Asom riots on the 4th day among the top stories, where even “Ramadan receipes” was there! Rajdeep Sardesai, one of India’s most senior media person, went to ridiculous extent of saying that not “enough” people died in Asom for full scale coverage!
Even print journalists like Prasantha Mazumdar thought their readers were idiots by using “a religious minority group” term. If one watches the videos that finally came out after 5 days, rioters in some footage surely fit the “Muslim settlers” profile of foreign media. Not only in some videos you can see them rioting, you can also see them filming their ‘proud’ destruction.
“Imported” voters of “secular” parties rioting in Asom
We were wondering, when just 5% or so of Asom’s population are Bodo tribe people, the one party in this violence, while 30-35% of Asom population is Muslim, why Indian media calls Muslims as “minority”? Tough to understand the logic. Much more tough to understand the large scale suppression of coverage of these riots during the initial days. The same media, which blared Gujarat riot 24*7 forgot that the worst case displaced people count for 2002 Gujarat riots was 2,00,000. As of day 5, Asom riots had displaced 1,70,000 people. Hope they realize the scale now and give the due coverage.
Why it happened?
To understand why it happened, we need to touch a bit of history here. Everything can be traced back to the large illegal migration of Bangladesh people into India, mostly Muslims, in search of employment and other economic benefits. Since Bangladesh is a primarily Islamic nation, there is no way they are fleeing their nation fearing any persecution.
Watch these two videos to understand the gravity of situation. They are lengthy, but simply outstanding in giving you a spine-chilling account of how much danger illegal immigration or infiltration presents to India.
Unlike the repeatedly failed (west) Pakistanis, Bangladeshis have captured Indian land for 15-20% of their population without firing a single bullet!
Noted journalist Swapan Das Gupta said once.
“When enemies attack,we bury our heads & hope problem goes away. So national bird should not be a peacock, but an Ostrich”
Robin Sharma of HS commented once:
“15% of Bangladeshis live in India illegally. It’s fair for India to demand 15% of Bangladesh land to be handed over”.
The main ill effect of illegal immigration or migration or infiltration happened on Poschim Bongo (West Bengal) state and Asom state. Per 2001 census, 12 out of 18 districts of Poschim Bongo had 20% or more Muslim population. – Imagine the 2012 situation then! Bangladesh’s per capita income is $848 and India’s is $1527. Bangladesh’s population density is 1150 per sq.km, while in Asom across the border, it is 397 per sq.km. This is a perfect recipe for intrusion. The 1970 population of East Pakistan was 7.5 crores. In 1974 it was reduced to 7.14 crores. Yes reduced! At 3.1% yearly growth around that decade, at least 60,00,000 went “missing”. Even considering war & deaths, it is certain that almost all the ‘missing’ ended up in India. To make it worse, in a sensitive border state like Asom, the then Indian PM Indira Gandhi did not push for census in 1981, considering disturbances. Since the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, the population growth in Asom over the next 20 years was like this; Muslim 77.42%. Hindu 41.89%. Doesn’t need anymore explanation as to what exactly happened.
For more information, please research into terms like “Greater Bangladesh” and “Lebensraum theory”. They would explain the causes of impending Asom Riots better. At a high level, Poschim Bongo’s Muslim to Hindu Population ratio in 1951 was 1:4, which became 1:3.5 by 1981 and by 2001, 1:2.8 . It might be more alarming for Hindus now. 20 years back by a retired IPS officer Baljit Rai even went to the extreme extent of screaming.. “Wake up DUMB Hindus! How Bangladesh will destroy India” in his book. Warning signs for both Asom and Poschim Bongo were clearly there.
Why was it not prevented?
In the simplest term, an open acceptance of illegal immigration is missing in most cases, thanks to pseudo secular vote bank politics.
20 years back when on 10 April 1992, the then CM Hiteshwar Saikia had said – “30 lakh Bangladeshi illegal migrants are there in Asom“, but exactly 2 days later, made a U-turn on 12 April 1992, stating “There are no illegal Bangladeshis in Asom”. That must be a world record as 30,00,000 illegals became “legal” in 2 days! In April 2011, we heard that “Narendra Modi said he’ll free Asom from Bangladesh. I say, even if 1000 Modis come, they can’t. All these people are Indian citizens” from Tarun Gogoi the CM of Asom. When a CM can confidently say that “There are no Bangladeshis in Asom” , then we can ask why Kokrajhar riots are even happening? With such irresponsible cover ups by folks who should be in the forefront of fight against illegal aliens, what can India expect? To put things into perspective, in 2003, the then Defence Minister of India, George Fernandes had said that there were 2,00,00,000 illegal Bangaldeshis in India. In 2005, Asom’s Governor Ajai Singh said that up to6,000 Bangladeshis illegally enter the region every DAY! Even the Prime Minister in 1992, PV Narasimha Rao had remarked in July 1992 that “The influx of Bangladeshis is a national problem and is the root of Asom’s instability“. So certainly there is a huge disconnect between certain CMs and the rest of responsible leaders who talked about the same serious topic. How can there be a difference of 2 crore? India needs an answer.
If acceptance is half the problem, then indifference towards the North East is the second part of the problem. Even when such a grave situation exists in Asom, India’s Prime Minister, who is also an MP from Asom, was feasting on Monday and Tuesday night with the new President for political formality. Compare that to United States where the entire country lowered the flag to half mast last week, when 14 people died due to a Colorado movie theater shooting. When will Indian leaders learn to respect losses of lives and behave in a mature way?
What can be done?
First, accept the geographical sensitivity of the issue. Kokrajhar for instance is a very key connecting point from ‘main’ India to its North Eastern states. If this district along with the one immediately south of it, Dhubri are taken over by illegal foreigners, then the safety and security of over 4,00,00,000 Indians in 7 states is in grave danger. Note, due to the unscientific partition of India, there is NO sea link to the North East of India, resulting in 1000 to 2000 KM of journey some people need to take to reach Kolkata port, when the nearest sea coast is hardly 100 to 200 KM from Mizoram and Tripura states of North East.
In 2001, 6 out of 22 districts in Asom had more than 50% Muslims. 14 out of 22 had over 20% Muslims. Considering the decade trends before that, things must be more stalked against Hindus as of 2012.
One thing to make it clear here. The focus is on Bangladeshi illegal migrants, who mostly happen to be Muslims.
Time to learn from Gujarat, Punjab on the western border of India. Gujarat shares 202 KM border with Pakistan. Asom shares 262 KM border. Illegal immigration to Gujarat is Zero. But in Asom? See what’s happening in Kokrajhar. Fencing of the border in Punjab started in 1988 and completed in just three years by 1991. In Asom, fencing was decided in 1985 and God knows when it will be complete.
Shun votebank politics, like what happened in Poschim Bongo in 1998. 3000 Bongos stopped deportation of 34 Bangladeshis from Maharashtra. Indian politicians should stop sick pseudo-secular fight for Bangladeshi illegals, like in 1998 when Bangladeshis were being deported. From 1993 to 1998, BSF handed over 39,746 illegal migrants to Bangladesh Rifles. Bangladesh accepted only 9.253 and refused to accept 30.493. India should put lots of international pressure to make Bangladesh take back these illegals. Politicians and Media should focus on some in-depth analysis points like thisand ask serious questions. How did it get to this position? What can be done?
Three Things that we suggest must be done:
There are lot many things that can be done, but regular folks like you and me should focus on three things.
a) Put pressure on politicians to act against illegal immigration. Against those waiting to cross over to India, and against those who are already in India. India belongs to legal resident Indians!
b) Educate friends and families for making (a) a reality.
c) Immediately join hands with those helping the lakhs of people who have lost homes temporarily or permanently. One such initiative is happening on the social network Twitter with the hash tag -> #HelpAssamRiotVictims . Join them, show your support to the victims and make them feel that they have help.
And, let’s hope there’s mercy from Bhagawan to those in deep suffering right this hour. The scale of suffering is huge and unfortunately, lots of geo-political things and politics have played a role into bringing them this suffering.