Guwahati, Sept. 10: A group of scholars and activists has called to reduce rhetoric, spread goodwill and not ill-will in Assam as “today all sides have the capacity to inflict harm on others”.
The group had met for a discussion on the situation in the wake of the riots in BTAD and Dhubri district at Jamia Millia Islamia on September 3.
The Centre for NE Studies had convened the meeting.
A statement issued by the group today said “angry rhetoric and mobilisation of groups along ethnic, community and linguistic lines” had not helped and a complex situation seemed to be in a state of drift with the government unable to win back the confidence of all groups.
“The worst sufferers in the recent riots and violence have been the poor and vulnerable, especially women and children. Rural schools have been converted into relief camps while giving temporary succour to a large number of people. Such a situation also blights the lives of those children who study at these schools,” the statement read.
It said the issue of illegal migration from Bangladesh remained an explosive and unresolved issue 27 years after the signing of the Assam Accord and showed the failure of all sides.
“It is our view that the Centre and state governments must assert that those migrants who have illegally slipped across the Indo-Bangladesh border since March 25, 1971 — the agreed cut-off date — will be tackled under due process or even through a system of special courts to speed up the process. This is a problem for all of India. This primarily represents a labour flow from Bangladesh, and needs to be raised with Dhaka also,” the statement said.
The meeting, among other things, stressed on:
Robust border patrolling, especially in the riverine areas
Economic co-operation on joint projects on the Bangladesh side of the border to help reduce influx and make remaining at home more attractive
Work permits, as have been discussed extensively, could be issued to people to come and work in India for short periods but only after the NRC process is completed and ID cards issued to all Indian citizens of the Northeast
The word “Bangladeshi” must be used to define those who have came post-1971 (the creation of Bangladesh) and should not be used casually to refer to people who are Bengali speaking or of Bengali origin, whatever their religious persuasion, who have settled in Assam before 1971
State governments need to appoint task forces to review and verify land records and the ownership of land so that the rights of all who are protected by law remain inalienable. In this complex situation, the rights of any one group cannot be protected at the expense of the rights of others