Bangladeshi Immigrants….

Arun Shourie asks with reference to the Bangladeshi immigrant issue – “Are we a country or a wastepaper basket?”

Harsh words those. But if what he says is true (and he is not the only one), the intensity and magnitude of the Bangladeshi illegal immigration issue is disturbing.

Quite certainly, we are a “lamb state”. India was responsible for Bangladesh’s Independece in 1971 to no small degree, but our inaction over the next 3 decades even as Bangladesh has gone from being a secular republic to an openly Islamic one reads like a litany of our feebleness.

Mujibur Rehman imagined a “secular” Bangladesh. At least a reasonably secular one. He is overthrown in 1975 in an army coup. Within a year, the provision that prohibited the use of religion for political purposes is removed from the Bangladeshi constitution. Discrimination against Hindus begin, and worsens over the next few years. Their lands are forcibly acquired, some begin to leave the country.

In 1977 Bangladesh replaces secularism as a fundamental principle of the State with ‘absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah’ and announced that ‘absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah shall be the basis of all actions’ of the State. The same proclamation inserted Bismillah-ar-Rahman-ar Rahim on the top of the Constitution. And all these paradigm shifts were ‘ratified’ by the erstwhile parliament in 1979, with Lieutenant General Ziaur Rahman at the helm of the state machinery.

In 1998, Bangladesh loses any pretence of secularism whatsoever, and declares itself an Islmaic State. Along the way, the % of Hindu population in Bangladesh is continuously decreasing.

And all this while, we do nothing. NOTHING.

According to Shourie and various other reports, besides Bangladeshi Hindus, Bangladeshi Muslims too have been migrating in hordes into India in even greater numbers, unchecked, and have already altered the demographic profile of the North East – Assam, Tripura and parts of West Bengal, in particular. The Hindus migrate mostly due to discrimination/victimization, sometimes due to poverty, the Muslims migrate sometimes due to victimization, mostly due to poverty.

There are at least 5-6 lakh illegal Bangladeshis in New Delhi, a similar number in Mumbai, and more than 1 crore in India. They are already in a position to affect the results in 25-30 parliamentary constituencies. In a few districts, they form over 50-60% of the population.

In sum, like illegal immigrants anywhere, they are fodder for state governments, who include some in the electoral rolls, promise other carrots to some others, and exploit all.

And we do nothing. Sensible countries take measures before a problem reaches epic proportions. Not us. We compromise all the time. The politicians do, the bureaucrats do, the public does, ergo, so does the STATE. And the few who don’t, we call them ideological fools who will never fit in. Day in and day out. That is our tragedy.

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Posted on August 18, 2004, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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