Shun vote-bank politics, impose Foreigners Act
By The New Indian Express
25th July 2012 12:40 AM
There is cause for concern over the resurgence of ethnic clashes in the Bodoland areas of Assam where at least 25 lives have been lost and an estimated 50,000 people are running away from violence, which shows no signs of abating. That the army has been pressed into action is an index of the volatility of the situation. While there can be no two opinions that stopping clashes and rehabilitating victims has to be the first task of the Centre and State, it is time the Assam government addresses the principal cause of violence after peace is restored. It is all too convenient to blame the extremists but unless there is an effort to understand and redress the reasons why the Bodo militants are finding support in the rural areas, any stoppage in violence can only be a lull before another storm.
The hard reality is that the area has become a cauldron of simmering communal violence with the growing distrust between the Bodos and the Bengali-speaking Muslim settlers, most of whom had earlier come from Bangladesh as refugees. This is indeed part of a larger problem of unrestricted infiltration of people from Bangladesh into Assam and other parts of the Northeast. Despite the Supreme Court’s categorical order to identify and deport these foreigners while quashing the controversial IMDT (Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, successive governments have failed to impose the Foreigners Act due to vote-bank compulsions. The result is not only socio-cultural strife but also increased threat to national security. Forced to share the scarce job opportunities with these illegal immigrants who enjoy political patronage, the youth have resorted to violence and strife.
There can be no running away from sealing the borders and evicting illegal encroachers and immigrants. Successive governments in Assam with the Centre looking the other way have done nothing to tackle this issue head-on. If the simmering discontent leads to large-scale ethnic and communal violence, the state government will have no one to blame but itself.
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