- Assam government’s action on encroachment was criticized by the opposition in the name of human-rights
- Land-Jihad was a part of BJP’s manifesto in 2021 assembly elections and the promises are being fulfilled now.
- According to Himanta Biswa Sarma, the total area under illegal encroachment in Assam exceeds the size of the state of Goa
Thanks to Muslim-appeasement politics over the years, Assam’s 120 years old struggle with illegal immigration and forced encroachment does not seem to end. BJP’s constant efforts to weed out illegal encroachment often tend to hit roadblocks created by the Congress party.
Extremist Islamists organize attack on Assam police
Recently, the government’s efforts of driving out illegal settlers met with a fierce retaliation by encroachers. The incident took place at Dholpur village in Sipajhar, when the police went to evict 60 families from the encroached area. More than 10,000 people attacked them with spears, machetes, knives and other locally available weapons. The resultant pushback by the police ended up in the deaths of two and injuring nine people.
According to the Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Popular Front of India (PFI), an extremist Islamic organization may have been behind the attack. Himanta is currently waiting for the judicial probe to be completed. Meanwhile, the opposition has come out hammers and tongs in support of illegal immigrants who had encroached on the land.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called the fightback by police a ‘state-sponsored fire’, and tweeted- “Assam is on state-sponsored fire. I stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the state- no children of India deserve this”.
Assam is on state-sponsored fire.
I stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the state- no children of India deserve this. pic.twitter.com/syo4BTIXKH
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 23, 2021
The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) organising secretary Md. Aminul Islam advocated for government provisions for the illegal encroachers before their eviction. Activist Dibyajyoti Saikia echoed the same opinion and demanded state-sponsored benefits like a rehabilitation package, housing, and various benefits for the encroachers. BJP came out in defense of Assam police’s use of power, and said that the police were doing their duty to preserve their own homeland.
Congress started the menace of illegal encroachment
BJP’S national spokesperson, Mr. Nalin Kohli pointed towards the problem created by the Congress party’s promotion of illegal immigration in the state. In a statement to ANI, he said- “Over a decade illegal immigrants from other parts of the country flooded Assam and managed to get fake documents and illegally encroach upon the government lands under their regime. At the same time Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said whatever needs to be done for the benefit of people in Assam, the steps will be done following the law.”
Assam’s problem with immigration and encroachment precedes India’s independence; it just got exponentially exacerbated after the unfortunate division of India into two countries. In 2012, Tarun Gogoi, the then Congress Chief Minister of Assam said that, from 1985-2012, various tribunals declared 61,774 people in Assam as foreigners. Various estimates suggest that illegals in Assam vary from 19 lakhs to 50 lakhs in numbers.
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) estimated the total illegal immigrants to be around 19 lakh, with most of them being Bangladeshis. These illegal immigrants have been involved in various illegal activities like money laundering, drug trafficking, counterfeit currency, etc. The encroachment becomes a safe house for them to carry out their illegal activities, since local administration usually avoids going into these self-made ghettos.
Immigrants turned to encroachers
As illegal immigrants flocked to Assam, they started looking for lands to settle. Since they used to move in large numbers, it became tough for any individual to oppose them. Slowly, they harped on the infamous ‘land-jihad’. Simply put, the illegals used to trouble individual landowners by making their daily life difficult to live, who in turn were forced to sell their lands, following which, the illegals used to occupy them through brokers. Slowly and eventually, they went on to encroach upon national parks, temples, satras (monasteries associated with the Ekasarana tradition of Vaishnavism founded by Sankardev), and many other public infrastructures.
Over time, these encroached lands developed their own infrastructure, and a lot of them have been able to take benefits from government schemes too. Several schools, primary health centers and toilets under the Swatch Bharat Abhiyan, have cropped up in those encroached areas. An Assam government estimate in 2019 suggested that around 3.87 lakh hectares of forest land were under encroachment by illegal immigrants. Estimates given by Assam Chief Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma suggest that the total encroached area in Assam is actually more than the size of Goa.
Land-Jihad was part of BJP’s election manifesto
The illegal immigration was so much into focus, that its effect of land-jihad did not came to limelight before the Assam assembly elections in 2021. Home minister Amit Shah had promised to tackle land-jihad along with love-jihad, if BJP government were to take charge. After coming to power, Himanta Biswa Sarma started a drive against this menace and freed 1000s of Bighas of land in districts like Hojai, Karimganj and Darrai.
At a time when finally a government has sensibly decided to act on foreigners and free up their motherland from encroachers, the opposition, led by the Congress party, is busy waving humanity’s flag. In the name of humanity, they are effectively asking the locals to become a minority in their own homeland – the same homeland which has been cultivated by their forefathers since thousands of years. It is time that the opposition should start supporting the nationalistic causes, rather than building a cover for illegal and illegitimate people.