Dr. S. AUSAF SAIED VASFI pleads for constructive talk with ULFA, while he condemns their terror tactics. He deplores prejudice against settlers and supports their incorporation.
The United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) has neither ideology, nor roots nor popularity. Its only asset is illegal arms and ammunition, and, of-course the crooks, who are found willing to die for the “freedom” of their dream-country. They are undisputedly secessionist. By organising periodic mayhem, specially before India’s Independence Day and Republic Day, the ULFA, regularly revives its demand of sovereignty. This time, the 33rd National Games, scheduled to be organised in Assam next month, have additionally enthused them to do repeated blood-letting. As we rush to the press, they have killed 62 Hindi-speaking non-Assamese, conveniently called Biharis. Last Year their score was 40.
“Freedom” and “sovereignty” are really great, quite revolutionary slogans. Have they cut ice with the Assam people? According to a survey conducted by a Non-Government Organisation, about 93 per cent Assamese not only reject the demand of sovereignty, but denounce the authors of “impossible dream” also.
According to the said report, a total of 25,64,128 people participated in the survey, out of which 24,49,740 people rejected the ULFA’s demand of a sovereign Assam. The survey was carried out in Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Sonitpur, Darrang, Dhubri, Bongaigaon, Goalpara, Barpeta and Kamrup (metro) districts. “Out of 25,64,128 people 1,14,379 people voted in support of the demand of ULFA for a sovereign Assam. But 24,49,740 rejected the demand. Thus, almost 95.53 per cent people were against the demand.
It is fair to recall that ULFA lost much of its support after it caused massive casualties by setting off explosives indiscriminately in the crowded civilian localities. The said survey covers nine districts. There is no reason to believe that the opinion of other 17 would be different.
It is with this “asset” of massive rejection of its ideology that the banned ULFA targets, virtually at will, the poor, the un-armed, the defenceless migrants, earning their livelihood in some parts of Assam. The ULFA writ runs large over the poor areas. They have succeeded in putting the State Government’s credibility at risk. The elected representatives have little credibility in public before their striking power, backed by lethal bombs, guns and explosives, capable of derailing trains. Terror is its tool. What the ULFA has done during the last two weeks is reminiscent of the pre-operation-Rhino times in 1991. The situation was similarly chaotic 17 years ago. The Upper Assam has recently been turned into a virtual killing field.
Political considerations and electoral expediencies rarely allowed the Central Government to act effectively and swiftly against the ULFA. One really does not know whether it was the too-pronounced over-emphasis on Kashmir that kept shifted national focus from other sovereignty-seeking outfits like the ULFA and other antediluvian forces in other parts of the country?
As Muslims happen to be a black-spot in the philosophy of the BJP (read) RSS, the party, over the decades, played partisan role in Assam. It maintained sustained pressure on the Centre to persue duplicity, double-talk and double-deal, as it does even today. An example, in the Saffron lexicon, a Hindu who illegally crosses the Indo-Bangla border is a “refugee”. But if he happens to be a “Muslim”, he is an “intruder”. Because of the Saffron machinations, before the promulgation of the IMDT Act, 210,446, Muslims were driven out of Assam between 1952 and 1971 without trial and without any opportunity to defend their status. Authoritative sources say: 192, 339 people were deported from the State between 1972 and 1983 in a similar manner.
One finds an inexplicable analogy in official orders also. For example: Under the Foreigners (Tribunals) Amendment Order, as well as the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, the onus of proving citizenship is on the suspected ‘foreigner’. But under the Foreigners (Tribunals for Assam) Order, 2006 the onus of proof was on the complainant, as under the IMDT Act, 1983.
Paragraph 2(1) of the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, states that the Central government may, by order, refer the question of a person’s citizenship status (within the meaning of the Foreigners Act, 1946) to a tribunal to be constituted for the purpose.
Should not these anomalies go, lock, stock and barrel? Migrants from Bangladesh are said to be the villain of the piece. But look how weak is the much trumpeted case: The Assam government spent Rs.400 crores (repeat Rs.400 crores) on the detection and deportation of foreigners in the past 21 years and in all that time, only 2,221 illegal Bangladeshi migrants were expelled. On December 12 last, the government said, it did not have the exact number of illegal immigrants living in Assam at present. This is how mountains are made of mole hills.
The case of migrant, who migrates for employment rather to make both the ends meet, deserves at least a hearing, if not a sympathetic one. The migrant, whose home is away from his home in our country, is looked down upon for his chill penury, and chill illiteracy. Nobody stop to think about his diseased mother or ill wife or his unhealthy children’s future. He is utterly vulnerable, soft target of every Tom, Dick and Harry. He has no ration card. He has no – or is incapable of – access to hospital and medical care. He is weightless rather a non-entity because his name, as a rule, is missing from the electoral rolls.
What adds to his helplessness is the fact that he lacks in necessary documents, his date of birth, his domicile certificate. He has no friends and acquaintances, who can put pressure on authorities for the solution of his problems. He has no knowledge of his ever-changing environment and masters. A migrant does not know what a passport is, what a savings bank account is. A migrant happens to be an alien in his own country.
All India Truth?
And, do you know what is basic all-India truth about the migrant? As per an NSSO survey (55th round conducted in 1999-2000) as many as 27 per cent of Indians are migrants, a group almost as large as the SC and ST population combined. As many as a third of the total urban population is migrant as opposed to a fourth for rural areas.
The case of this formidable, yet silent minority of India goes by default. It is the selected target of Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, of ULFA in Assam and the sex maniacs in Nithari, UP.
As far as the ULFA is concerned, we feel, the despatch of 10,000 army personnel is not the proper answer, although they understand that language alone. On India’s request, the Bhutanese government crackdown on ULFA strongholds in 2003 brought them to knees. In 1995, the Indian and Mayamari forces compelled them to behave in the common border area. Therefore, let the heavy armed forces presence put sense inside their brain, if any.
New Delhi should not insist upon laying down their arms. In this confident atmosphere, a constructive dialogue should start. In talks with Mizos too, no stringent pre-conditions had been allowed to vitiate the atmosphere. In talks with ULFA, the yardstick that New Delhi used with Nagas, should not be thrown away. Let the UPA-led-dispensation honestly create the impression that not only Bharat is big but those who run it have also been endowed with a larger heart.
But all this too is no guarantee of solution. For a lasting solution, we will have to propel an ambience, conducive for migrants. Let us erase off the black, thick, cutting line between a migrant and an Indian. Let us popularise egalitarian concept. Let us popularise the fact that Bharat is federal, Bharat is plural, Bharat is heterogeneous, Bharat is multi-religion, multi-linguistic, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic.