GUWAHATI, Nov 5 - Terming the BJP government’s move to settle Bangladeshi Hindus in Assam by amending the Citizenship Act as a “political and mental perversion”, public activist Prof Deven Dutta today said that Assam would suffer “irreversible and dreadful consequences” cutting across social, political, economic and environmental spheres.
“It’s a clear ploy to polarise the people on religious lines for narrow political gains. The composite Assamese society never had religion as its base, nor will it ever endorse a Hindu Assam or a Hindu Rashtra. The BJP at the Centre and its State leaders who are vocally advocating the cause of Hindu Bangladeshis, suffer from political and mental perversions,” Prof Dutta said while addressing a press conference.
Prof Dutta added in the same breath that the fear of Assam becoming a Muslim-majority State is not entirely unfounded but, “it is perilous and height of absurdity to call for thwarting such an eventuality by bringing in Hindu Bangladeshis.”
“If the Muslim population is exploding, check it by bringing in a uniform civil code and preventing polygamy, besides addressing other social causes responsible for the spurt in their numbers. It will be suicidal to settle Hindu Bangladeshis in Assam, which already has a large number of Bengali-speaking populace,” he said.
Pointing out that Assam had to resist the designs of the Bengalis in insisting on Bengali as State language right from the days of the British, Prof Dutta said that just ten years into the Yandaboo Treaty of 1826, Bengali replaced Assamese as the official language for four decades from 1836 to 1873.
“History repeated itself in 1960 when several Assamese youths died in the Language Movement. Barak Valley does not have Assamese signboards and Bengali is the official language there. It will only be a matter of time before Assamese is again replaced by Bengali as official language once Hindu Bangladeshi migrants are accommodated as Indian citizens in Assam. Not all Bengalis are Ashutosh Mukherjee, Dr Suniti Chatterjee, Ananda Shankar Ray or Hemanga Biswas,” he said.
Prof Dutta added that besides the loss of Assamese identity, settling Hindu Bangladeshis in large numbers would subject the available resources including land and the natural environment including precious forests to severe and unsustainable pressure.
“Where is the land to settle the Hindu migrants? Will they be settled in the Kaziranga National Park? People are already saying that the recent eviction in Kaziranga was done to evict Muslim encroachers and replace them with Hindu Bangladeshis. Assam will be finished socially, culturally, economically and ecologically if Hindu migrants are settled here,” he said.
Referring to Tripura where the indigenous populace was rendered minorities by Bengalis, Prof Dutta questioned why a ‘Chakravarty’ or a ‘Sarkar’ has been the Chief Minister instead of a ‘Jamatia’ or a ‘Hrankhal’.
“Assam awaits a similar plight…and why should Assam bear the burden of Hindu migrants in the ‘larger interests of India’? Is Assam under some kind of contract to be a dumping ground? How can it be that Assam alone needs to accommodate India’s interests but India doesn’t care for Assam?” he said.
Prof Dutta said that all the political parties and most of the organisations have a soft corner either for Hindu migrants or for Muslim migrants from Bangladesh. “This makes it impossible for them to protest with the same steam against Hindu or Muslim migrants,” he said.