Bangla Deshi’s in India: Myth and Reality

Source: Northern Voices Online

The Assam violence between Bodos and Muslims, alleged by many to be Bangldeshi infiltrators, has a long chain of repercussions. The number of dead is nearly eighty. Killings are continuing and the people who have been displaced have been over 4 lakhs. There is no exact statistics to tell us how many of the displaced are Muslims and how many are Bodos, still roughly some investigators have put the figure of Muslims 80% and Bodos 20%. The few reports which have come out tell us that the condition of the all refugee camps is abysmal, much worse of those where Muslims are living. Meanwhile many a voices have come up to express their own opinions. The BJP leaders have strongly asserted that the whole violence is due to the Bangla Deshi infiltrators, whose number is estimated as per the flight of one’s imagination ranging from 10 million to 20 million or even more. It is alleged that they have encroached, taken over the land of the local natives, which is causing the dissatisfaction and so the hate for them. This hate in turn is at the root of violence. This is one case where displacement overshadows the violence.

The Election Commissioner H.S. Brahma, a Bodo himself, went to the extent of saying that these infiltrators have gone up in number and so have become aggressive and attacked the local Bodos. The other point of view is that despite the formation of Bodo Territorial Council, the Bodos did not surrender their arms, which was one of the conditions for accepting the demand of this regional council. There are voices from BJP stable that this is an issue of Nationalism, the one of Indians and the other of Bangladeshis. Some of them have voiced that these Bangla Deshis should be disenfranchised and not be permitted to vote. As such already many of them are not allowed to vote by putting them in the category of ‘D’ voters, i.e. doubtful voters. As per BJP and company it is Congress, which has been encouraging the Bangladeshis to infiltrate so that they can be used as the vote bank by the Congress. Not to ignore that since major number of those in relief camps is that of Muslims, some Bodo groups have warned that the Muslims should not be permitted to return to their original places.

National Minorities Commission in its report has pointed out that there is no infiltration of Bangla Deshis as such and the issue is that between the Bodo ethnic groups, on one side and the Muslims, who have settled here from a long time, on the other. Before we come to the issue whether these are Bangla Deshi infiltrators, Bangldeshi migrants or the Muslims settlers from Bengal over a period of time, lets register that the Assam episode had a very painful after events. There were Hate emails, Hate web sites which warned the North Eastern people that revenge of Assam will be taken against them and this caused a mammoth exodus of North eastern people from all over, more particularly from Bangalore. The Web sites which did this dirty job, many of them have been blocked, it is said are from Pakistan, some 20% of the blocked sites are the one’s run by Hindutva groups also. Through leaflets and other mechanisms VHP and other groups are propagating that Hindus are being attacked by Muslims, the Bangla Deshi infiltrators.

Not to be left behind some orthodox, fanatic Muslim groups organized a protest rally in Azad Maidan of Mumbai, in which a preplanned act by a section of Muslims attacked the OB vans of media and the police officials. The restrained and effective leadership of Arup Patnaik was not to the liking of the communal elements and those politicking on the issue within the ruling party and so Mr. Patnaik has been punished by being kicked up, As such secular activists and large section of Muslims are in deep appreciation of Mr. Patnaik’s handling of the episode.

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