On May 2, four states and one Union Territory will elect their new assemblies. Of these, the final outcome will seriously impact the states that border Bangladesh. Since independence, Assam had acquired a disproportionately large number of Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh. As a result, they now constitute a majority in 53 out of 126 constituencies and are poised to add a few more. However, the other ethnic and religious groups never accepted their legitimacy as citizens and kept protesting, often violently. Finally, an exercise was undertaken to identify genuine settlers. A National Register of Citizens (NRC) was accordingly prepared but names figuring in the list have left the original residents more agitated.
The BJP is committed to revise the list to protect their interests, but Congress/ All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) insists on its implementation. Either way, it is bound to provoke the rival alliances. How vehemently they would react, depends on who will win the elections. Another concern in Assam is of unrelenting infiltration of illegal Bangladeshis. The BJP had brought it down by 37 percent, but if results favour Congress/AIUDF, which have been notorious for facilitating, sheltering and radicalising illegal migrants, a long period of unrest is on cards. Similarly, if the BJP enforces the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) regardless of Congress/AIUDF opposition, the state should be ready to encounter protest by Muslims and jubilation by religiously persecuted Hindus.
The post-election scenario in West Bengal is no less alarming. During 74 years of Congress, CPI(M) and TMC rule, the state was turned into a killing field. Every election was charred by violent clashes, bombings and killings of rival political workers, led by party goons, illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and radicalised Muslims. Most Hindu voters were too scared to reflect their honest choice, paving way for Bangladeshi migrants—rehabilitated and illegal—to emerge as reliable voters.
In return for their electoral loyalty, successive governments blatantly patronised them. As a result, they control nine out of 23 districts, thanks to the steady exodus of Hindus from 32,000 bordering villages to escape economic, religious and social harassment. Others are waiting to move out. Twenty-one terror modules involving immigrants have also come to notice for being active and 339 border madrassas for being misused by Islamic radicals from Bangladesh to brainwash local jihadis. Finding the state to be a safe haven, terrorist organisations such as Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, Ansarullah Bangla Team and Islamic State which are banned in Bangladesh, have set up their networking 14 districts to carry out violent and illegal operations across India.
The outcome of the polls will decide whether West Bengal will have more of these criminal activities or bring some sanity in people’s lives.
Former special secretary, Research and Analysis Wing