Home | Contact Us | Archive | Online Books | Subscribe    
Jana Sangh Today | A Monthly Magazine

Write to us | Email this Story

Assam
Invasion Of Assam : Peep Into The Past
In February, 1946 the British government announced to send a Cabinet Misson to India to solve the constitutional issues between the Indian National Congress and the Indian Muslim League.
Apr 2017

In February, 1946 the British government announced to send a Cabinet Misson to India to solve the constitutional issues between the Indian National Congress and the Indian Muslim League. The Cabinet Mission arrived in India in March, 1946. The Congress wanted a single Constituent Assembly for an all-India federal government whereas the Muslim League demanded six provinces of Bengal and Assam in the North-East and the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sindh, and Balochistan in the north west to be constituted into a sovereign independent state of Pakistan and two separate constitution-making bodies respectively for the peoples of Hindustan and Pakistan.

The Muslim League demand was based on the basis of Muslim population of each province. The Cabinet Mission, however, saw no justification for including within Pakistan those districts of the Assam, Bengal and Punjab provinces wherein the population was predominantly non-Muslim. The Mission's recommendation was to divide India into three Zones: Zone C was to consist of Assam and Bengal, Zone B was to comprise the Punjab, NWFP, Balochistan and the Sindh Province and Zone A was to consist of the rest of the provinces. Broadly, the Zones and provinces therein were to function as independent entities .The Cabinet Mission Plan was eventually rejected both by the Congress and the Muslim League.

With the arrival of Lord Mountbatten as the next Viceroy of India in March, 1947, the British rulers made it plain to the leaders of the Muslim League that since the demand of the League was solely based on religion and religion alone, the provinces of Assam, Bengal and Punjab could not go to Pakistan in their entirety and had to be divided.

In so far as the inclusion of Assam was concerned, Dr. Rajendra Prasad in his book, India Divided last published in June, 1947 dealt with this issue in detail. He quoted at length the views of British officers as to how the demographic profile of Assam had undergone a drastic change with inflow of Muslims particularly, from East Bengal. One would have thought that the infiltration of Bengali Muslims would come to a stop after the division of India into Hindustan and Pakistan. Alas! This did not happen. This became a source of conflict. In the year 2000, a petitioner from Assam moved the Hon'ble Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of the Illegal Migrants Act 1983 and the Rules made there under in 1984. The Hon'ble Supreme Court in 2005 declared both the Act and the Rules as void.  Excerpts from the conclusion of the judgment are reproduced below:

SUPREME COURT JUDGMENT (12/07/2005) ON THE ILLEGAL MIGRANTS ACT 1983 AND THE ILLEGAL MIGRANTS RULES 1984 (EXCERPTS)
In our opinion, the proposition urged by the learned Additional Solicitor General has no application to the fact situation of the present case. The contention of the petitioner is not that merely because the provisions of the IMDT Act provide many safeguards to an alleged illegal migrant in comparison to the Foreigners Act the IMDT Act is ultra vires. The contention is that as the Statement of Objects and Reasons show that the influx of foreigners who illegally migrated into India across the borders of the sensitive Eastern and North-Eastern regions of the country and have remained in the country, pose a threat to the integrity and security of the said region and further their continuance in India has given rise to serious problems and also the clandestine manner in which these persons are trying to pass off as citizens of India has rendered their detection difficult and there being need for their speedy detection and the interest of general public, a classification was made on geographical basis whereby the Act was enforced only in the State of Assam in supersession to the Foreigners Act. But the Act so made contains such provisions and prescribes such procedure that it has become virtually impossible to detect and deport a foreigner which is evident from the statistical data furnished by the respondent themselves. The basis of differentiation has thus no nexus with the object sought to be achieved and, therefore, the classification made for application of IMDT Act to the State of Assam violates Article 14 and is consequently liable to be struck down. 55. Shri K.K. Venugopal has submitted that Section 8 of the IMDT Act is similar to Section 9 of the Citizenship Act and, therefore, the same interpretation should be placed upon Section 8. In our opinion it is not possible to accept such a contention.

Section 9 of the Citizenship Act applies to a situation where the question is whether an Indian citizen has lost his citizenship by acquiring the citizenship of a foreign country. Such a question can be decided only by the Central Government. We are concerned here with identification and deportation of such Bangladeshi nationals who have illegally crossed the international border and have taken up residence in Assam. The question of loss of Indian citizenship on account of acquisition of citizenship of another country does not at all arise for consideration here. 56. The learned Additional Solicitor General has submitted that the present writ petition has been filed by way of public interest litigation and seeks to achieve a political purpose. It is urged that the petitioner Shri Sarbananda Sonowal was earlier an MLA of Assam Gana Parishad party and is now a Member of Parliament (at the time of going to press the chief minister) and what his party could not achieve politically, he wants to achieve by means of this public interest litigation. It is urged that as held in S.P. Gupta v. Union of India 1981 (Supp.) SCC 87 and some other cases that a public interest litigation cannot be entertained where its object is to attaina political purpose, the present petition is liable to be dismissed. Shri K.K. Venugopal, learned senior counsel for the State of Assam, has in addition submitted that no fundamental right of the petitioner has been violated and, therefore, the present petition under Article 32 of the Constitution is not maintainable. We are unable to accept the submission made. It is the foremost duty of the Central Government to protect its borders and prevent trespass by foreign nationals.

Article 51-A(d) of the Constitution says that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so. If an Act made by legislature has the disastrous effect of giving shelter and protection to foreign nationals who have illegally transgressed the international border and are residing in India and further the Act is unconstitutional, any citizen is entitled to bring it to the notice of the Court by filing a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution. There are any number of instances where such writ petitions have been entertained by this Court at the instance of citizens who were not themselves personally aggrieved in the sense that there was no direct invasion of their own fundamental right. In Dr. D.C. Wadhwa v. State of Bihar AIR 1987 SC 579, the petitioner had filed writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution challenging the action of the Governor of Bihar in promulgating ordinances from time to time under Article 213 of Constitution of India without getting them replaced by Acts of the Legislature. The Constitution Bench held that the petitioner has sufficient interest to maintain a petition under Article 32 even as a member of the public because it is the right of every citizen to insist that he should be governed by laws made in accordance with the Constitution and not law made by the executive in violation of the constitutional provisions. It was also held that if any particular ordinance was being challenged by the petitioner he may not have the locus standi to challenge it simply as a member of the public unless some legal right or interest of his is violated or threatened by such ordinance, but here what petitioner as a member of the public was complaining of is a practice which is being followed by the State of Bihar of repromulgting the ordinances from time to time without their provisions being enacted into Acts of the Legislature. The Court ruled that the petition had been filed for vindication of public interest and he must therefore be held to be entitled to maintain his writ petitions. In R.K. Garg v. Union of India AIR 1981 SC 2138 the constitutional validity of Special Bearer Bonds (Immunities and Exemptions) Ordinance and the Act of 1981 was challenged by Shri R.K. Garg, a senior advocate of Supreme Court, by filing a writ petition under Article 32 of Constitution, which was entertained and the validity of the Act was examined in great detail.

Recently this Court entertained a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution at the instance of Prof. Yashpal, former Chairman of University Grants Commission by way of Public Interest Litigation and struck down the Act made by Chhattisgarh Legislature which enabled 112 Private Universities to be established, having no infrastructure whatsoever within a short span of two years. (See JT 2005 (3) SC 165)57. To sum up our conclusions, the provisions of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983 are ultra vires the Constitution of India and are accordingly struck down. The Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Rules, 1984 are also ultra vires and are struck down. As a result, the Tribunals and the Appellate Tribunals constituted under the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983 shall cease to function. The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, the Foreigners Act, 1946, the Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950 and the Passport Act, 1967 shall apply to the State of Assam. All cases pending before the Tribunals under the Illegal Migrants

(Determination by Tribunals ) Act, 1983 shall stand transferred to the Tribunals constituted under the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 and shall be decided in the manner provided in the Foreigners Act, the Rules made there under and the procedure prescribed under the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964. In view of the finding that the competent authority and the Screening Committee had no authority or jurisdiction to reject any proceedings initiated against any alleged illegal migrant, the orders of rejection passed by such authorities are declared to be void and non est in the eye of law. It will be open to the authorities of the Central Government or State Government to initiate fresh proceedings under the Foreigners Act against all such persons whose cases were not referred to the Tribunals constituted under the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983 by the competent authority whether on account of the recommendation of the Screening Committee or any other reason whatsoever. The appeals pending before the Appellate Tribunals shall be deemed to have abated. 58. In view of the discussion made above, the writ petition succeeds and is allowed with the following directions :

(1) The provisions of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983 and the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Rules, 1984 are declared to be ultra vires the Constitution of India and are struck down;

(2) The Tribunals and the Appellate Tribunals constituted under the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983 shall cease to function;

(3) All cases pending before the Tribunals under the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals ) Act, 1983 shall stand transferred to the Tribunals constituted under the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 and shall be decided in the manner provided in the Foreigners Act, the Rules made there under and the procedure prescribed under the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964.

(4) It will be open to the authorities to initiate fresh proceedings under the Foreigners Act against all such persons whose cases were not referred to the Tribunals by the competent authority whether on account of the recommendation of the Screening Committee or any other reason whatsoever.

(5) All appeals pending before the Appellate Tribunal shall be deemed to have abated.

(6) The respondents are directed to constitute sufficient number of Tribunals under the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 to effectively deal with cases of foreigners, who have illegally come from Bangladesh or are illegally residing in Assam.59. All the Interlocutory Applications are disposed of in terms of the above order

Views of Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Looking at the table given it is difficult to understand on what basis the Province of Assam is claimed as a Muslim zone.  In the Province as a whole the Muslims are only 33.73 per cent as against the Hindus who are 4I.29 per cent of the population. If we take the districts, then Sylhet is the only district in which the Muslims are 60.71 per cent of the population. In no other district do they constitute a majority of the population although in the districts of Cachar and Goalpara they are the most numerous as a single community, being 36.33 per cent and 46.23 per cent of the population respectively. The utmost that can be fairly claimed as a Muslim zone is the district of Sylhet, although a majority of 60.71 per cent can hardly be called, an overwhelming majority. In some of the smaller districts the Tribes are in an overwhelming majority, while in others where the Hindus do not by themselves constitute a majority, the Tribes and the Hindus together constitute a majority. In eight out of 14 districts of the Province the percentage of Muslims is less than five, in three less than one. As the claim of the Muslim League to any area is based on Muslims being numerically in a majority in that area, it cannot stand where they are not in such majority, although they may be the most numerous as a single community in that area, the majority being formed of a combination of other communities. No other community as such

TABLE XXX

Distribution of main Communities in Assam at the Censuses of   1901, 1911, 1921, 1931 and 1941
        Total         Number per 10,000 of the Population
        Population    Hindu                 Muslims             Tribes
Province     1941        1941, 1931, 1921, 1911 ,1901,    1941, 1931, 1921, 1911 , 1901     1941, 1931, 1921,  1911, 1901
British        1,02,04,733         4129,  5720, 5433, 5418, 5578     3373, 3196, 2896, 2810, 2689    2435, 825, 1479, 1652 ,1652
Assam
Assam     7,25,655        4516, 4362, 5994, 5816, 5996      436, 393, 455, 419, 365         4674, 4491, 3433, 3758, 3632
States Total    1,09,30,388    4154, 5628, 5461, 5438, 5598, 3178, 3007, 2778, 2693, 2581     2584, 1073, 1573, 1755, 1744

Assam has claimed separation from the rest of India and as a matter of fact others have opposed the idea of such separation. It is therefore on the strength of the Muslim majority alone that the League can put forward such a claim.

WRONG BASIS OF CLASSIFICATION OF POPULATION
The number of Hindus in the Province has been brought down by adopting the tribal origin instead of the religion of a large number of persons recorded under the head of Tribes as the basis for classification. We shall also see how the number of Muslims has increased in the Province.

It will be noticed that the population of Hindus has dropped from 57.20 per cent in 193I to 41.29 per cent in 194I in British Assam and from 56.28 to 41.54 per cent in Assam as a whole including the states, while that of the Tribes has increased from 8.25 per cent to 24.35 per cent in British Assam and from 10.73 per cent to 25.84 per cent in Assam as a whole between the 1931 and 1941 Censuses. This sudden and large discrepancy is explained by Mr K. W. P. Marar, I.C.S., Superintendent of Census Operations in Assam in 1941, as follows:

The essential point is that the table shows the community origin, not the religious attribution. Had time and finances permitted, other details could have been given to link up fully with 1931 but in this truncated census this was not possible. Community and religion may seem to many as one and the same and inseparable, and are in fact so in most cases. But where there are tribes, community and religion need not always be the same and in the present census they have all been classified on the basis of community and not of religion. Thus a Khasi returning himself as a Hindu, Christian, Muslim or Animist at the last census would have been classified under any of those headings of religion according to the faith he professed or attributed to him, but this time he has .been classified as a Khasi. This is the main reason for the great apparent fall in the proportion, in the whole population of Christians and to a less extent of Hindus and Buddhists. At the same time there is more than a corresponding increase in the proportion of the tribal people .... If the figures be examined in the light of what is stated above they will be found to disclose no "alarming" tendencies. All the communities have 'shown natural increase in varying degree and in no district have the pre-existing communal proportions been disturbed to any appreciable extent except by migration.

One need not quarrel with the idea of recording persons of tribal origin in a separate column, if at the same time their religion was also recorded. As the Census Superintendent says, ‘the Hindus are present in the same proportions as before’ but a glance at the tables showing their numbers and proportions gives an entirely wrong and misleading picture of the position.

VIEWS OF CENSUS COMMISSIONER OF INDIA
Mr M. W. M. Yeatts, C.LE., IC.S., Census Commissioner for India in I941, after explaining the necessity for the change introduced in the Census of 1941 of recording the tribal origin of persons as distinguished from the religion which they professed, goes on : ‘The fact is of course that while between Islam or Christianity and other religions there exists as it were a definite wall or fence over which or through which the convert must go, there is nothing between what is usually though vaguely described as animism and the equally vague and embracing concept of Hinduism but a very wide no man’s land; and the process by which a Tribesman is assimilated to a Hindu is not that of conversion or the acceptance of a particular creed or joining in a definitely marked out section of the population, but a more or less gradual traversing of this no man's land. The traverse may and generally does occupy more than one generation and it would take an expert to say at what period and in which generation more than half the no man’s land had been crossed so that one could say that the assimilation was more than half completed.... It is in this light therefore that the community tables and the subsidiaries which give ratios should be examined. Viewed thus, the position emerges that in British India 64½ per cent of the population are Hindus, 27 Muslims, 1 Indian Christians. Persons of tribal origin represent 5½ per cent. Of this 5½ per cent approximately one-twentieth fall within the Christians on a religion basis. The remainder can be regarded as in greater or less degree of assimilation towards the Hindu majority. At one end there is in continued existence a tribal way of life. At the other there is more or less complete assimilation. In between there is every degree in the continuous process represented by the transition. The degree differs for each province and state and as I have stressed is a matter for local estimation.’

Again:  ‘Allowing for the tribal classification question therefore, one could say that the Hindu-Muslim proportions in Bengal are practically unaltered from 1931 ... The Bihar, Central Provinces and Assam figures of course bring in the tribal classification and assimilation question in a fairly marked degree, but if the religion allocations of 1931 were repeated as a basis for community classification the effect would be of a fractional drop in the percentage of Hindus.’

That the Tribes have more in common with Hindus than with any other religious group is the opinion of competent authorities, and the process of assimilation has been going on from time immemorial. Assimilation of tribes to Hinduism has been achieved on a colossal scale in the centuries and millennia that have elapsed and 'that without any apparent or violent breach with their past. It is therefore only just that their number should be counted with the Hindus, at any rate, in the case of those who declare themselves as Hindus as used to be done in the censuses previous to 1941.

COMMENTS OF VERRIER ELWIN
Mr Verrier Elwin, M.A. (Oxon). F.R.A.I., F.N.I., who has been living among the tribes in the Central Province for years and studying them and their culture, was the President of the section of Anthropology and Archaeology at the thirty-first session of the Indian Science Congress which was held at Delhi in January 1944. He chose ‘Truth in Anthropology’ as the subject of his presidential address and laid stress on the very great need of a high standard of truth in all our field work in order that the science of Anthropology may be established in India. He says: ‘It is necessary to stress this, for Anthropology is regarded with some suspicion India. There are several reasons for this. The attempt of certain scholars and politicians to divide the aboriginal tribes from the Hindu community at the time of census created the impression that science could be diverted to political and communal ends. In earlier years the census authorities tried to distinguish animism and Hinduism Later the expression “Followers of Tribal Religions” was used. The test proposed was to ask a person whether he worshipped Hindu or tribal gods. This test was meaningless. The religion of the aboriginals in Peninsular India at least is obviously of the Hindu family, Hinduism itself having many elements which a theologian would call animistic. In the religious columns, therefore the aboriginals should have been returned from the beginning as Hindus. Any other classification was worse than useless. It is very difficult even for a trained theologian to decide the exact description of the religion of the various tribes. It is obviously impossible for an illiterate and ignorant enumerator to do so. What we want to know is how many aboriginals there are in India that we can insist that they have a square deal in the counsels of the country. But now we know accurately neither the religion nor racial situation, and the unfortunate fact that a number of anthropologists interested themselves in the complicated business of deciding the exact way in which aboriginals should be distinguished from the Hindu religion has done our science harm in public estimation.
The effect of all this mishandling by the census authorities has been, as admitted by them in the quotations given above, to reduce considerably the number of Hindus and their proportion in the population of some of the Provinces and States and of India as whole. As pointed out by Mr Yeatts, the Census Commissioner of India: ‘The Muslim figure can be regarded as practically unaffected by the tribal origin question and here we have the record of gradual increase which previous decades had already presented and for which the reasons have been discussed at some length in the reports of these years. The Bengal component is practically unaltered and the Punjab one increased by about ½ % or 1 per cent. The most noticeable rise is in Assam and once again represents migration from Mymensingh and East Bengal generally.’

 It will be noticed that the proportion of Muslims has gone on steadily increasing. In 1901 they formed only 26.89 per cent of the population of British Assam while by 1941 their percentage had increased to 33.73. This increase is due to a large extent to immigration of Muslims from East Bengal, particularly from the district of Mymensingh to the districts of Assam.

The Census Report,1931
The Census Report of I931 has devoted a whole chapter to the discussion of the question of immigration and has pointed out that there are three main currents of migration into Assam, viz.:

(i) immigration to Assam tea gardens;

(ii) immigration of Eastern Bengal colonists;

(iii) immigration of Nepalis. Mr C. S. Mullan, M.A., R.C.S., the Census Superintendent for Assam, I931, points out that ‘at the present census however there has been a considerable change. From Bengal immigrants have continued to pour into Assam as in the previous decade but in the case of the coolly (into tea gardens) recruiting provinces the stream has not flowed at the old rate.’ It is necessary to give here a pretty long quotation from the Census Report of Assam regarding the immigration of Eastern Bengal colonists into Assam.

IMMIGRATION OF EASTERN BENGAL INTO ASSAM
‘Probably the most important event in the province during the last twenty-five years an event, moreover, which seems likely to alter permanently the whole future of Assam and to destroy more surely than did the Burmese invaders of 1820 the whole structure of Assamese culture and civilization has been the invasion of a vast horde of land hungry Bengali immigrants, mostly Muslims, from the districts of Eastern Bengal and in particular from Mymensingh. This invasion began some time before I911, and the Census Report of that year is the first report which makes mention of the advancing host. But, as we now know, the Bengali immigrants censused for the first time on the char lands of Goalpara in I911 were merely the advance guard-or rather the Scouts of a huge army following closely at their heels. By 1921 the first army corps had passed into Assam and had practically conquered the district of Goalpara. The course of events between 1911 and I921 has been described in the 1921 Census Report as follows:

“In 1911 few cultivators from Eastern Bengal had gone beyond Goalpara, those censused in the other districts of Assam Valley numbering only a few thousands and being mostly clerks, traders and professional men. In the last decade (1911-21) the movement has extended far up the Valley (Brahmaputra) and the colonists now form an appreciable element in the population of all the four lower and central districts, the two upper districts (i.e. Sibsagar and Lakhimpur) are scarcely touched as yet. In Goalpara nearly 20 per cent of the population is made up of those settlers. The next favourite district is Nowgong where they form about 14 per cent of the whole population. In Kamrup waste lands are being taken up rapidly, specially in the Barpeta sub-division. In Darrang exploration and settlement by the colonists are in an earlier stage, they have not yet penetrated far from the banks of the Brahmaputra. Almost every train and steamer brings parties of those settlers and it seems likely that their march will extend further up the Valley and away from the river before long.”

Let us now examine the progress of the invasion since 1921. It must in the first place be remembered that the children of the settlers born after their arrival in Assam have been recorded as Assam-born and hence do not appear in the figures and that the table below shows the total number of the people born in Bengal and not the number of settlers only; still the figures give us a very good idea of what has been taking place during the last ten years:

TABLE XX
Number of Persons born in Bengal in each District of the Assam Valley in
1911, 1921 and 1931
(MS=Mymensingh District; 000's omitted)
Year    Goalpara    Kamrup    Darrang    Nowgong    Sibsagar    Lakhimpur 
1911     77 (MS 1)    4 (MS 1)    7 (MS 1)    4 (MS 1)    14 (MS Nil)    14 (MS Nil)
1921      151 (MS 30)    44 (MS 30)    20 (MS 12)    58 (MS 52)    14 (MS Nil)    14 (MS  Nil)
1931    170 (MS 91)    34 (MS 91)    41 (MS 30)    120 (MS 108)    12 (MS Nil)    9 (MS  2)

‘In the above table the figures for Mymensingh district have been given in brackets as that district is the one which is chiefly responsible for the flood of immigrant settlers.

‘These are startling figures and illustrate the wonderful rapidity with which the lower districts of the Assam Valley are becoming colonies of Mymensingh ... I have already remarked that by 1921 the first army corps of the invaders had conquered Goalpara. The second army corps which followed them in years 1921-31 has consolidated their position in that district and has also completed the conquest of Nowgong. The Barpeta sub-division of Kamrup has also fallen to their attack and Darrang is being invaded, Sibsagar has so far escaped completely but the few thousand Mymensinghias in North Lakhimpur are an outpost which may, during the next decade, prove to be a valuable basis of major operations....

NUMBER OF EASTERN BENGALI SETTLERS TILL1941
‘The exact number of these Eastern Bengal settlers (including their children born in Assam), who are at present living in the Assam Valley is a difficult matter to estimate. Mr Lloyd in 1921 estimated that including children, born after their arrival in this province, the total number of settlers was at least 300,000 in that year. As far as I can judge the number at present must be over half a million. The number of new immigrants from Mymensingh alone, has been 140,000 and old settlers have undoubtedly been increasing and multiplying. As pointed out in the Census Report for 192I, the colonists have settled by families and not singly. This can be seen from the fact that out of the total of 338,000 persons born in Mymensingh and censused in Assam over 152,000 are women. What of the future? As far as can be foreseen the invasion is by no means complete; there are still large areas of waste land in  Assam-particularly in the North Lakhimpur sub-division-and Kamrup, in spite of the large number of immigrants, which it has, absorbed during the last ten years, is capable of holding many more. The Mangladai sub-division is also capable of further development. Now that most of the waste lands of Goalpara and Nowgong have been taken up, the trend of immigration should, therefore, be more and more towards Kamrup, Mangladai and North Lakhimpur. The latter sub-division should prove a veritable “El-Dorado”, if news of its empty spaces awaiting the hoe and plough of the colonists reaches the ears of the main body of trekkers.

‘It is sad but by no means improbable that in another 30 years Sibsagar district will be the only part of Assam in which an Assamese will find himself at home. ‘The Census Report of 1941 completes the story with a short but significant sentence quoted above- ‘The most noticeable rise [in the Muslim population] is in Assam and once again represents migration from Mymensingh and East Bengal generally.’

POLICY OF COLONIZATION OF ASSAM
This policy of colonization of Assam by the Muslims of Bengal was continued under the joint auspices of the Muslim League ministries of Sir Saadullah in Assam and Sir Nazimuddin in Bengal, as the following Bengal Government communique published in the Press, in the last week of October 1944, shows:

‘The Government of Assam in their resolution dated the 21st June 1940 prohibited settlement of land with persons coming from outside the province after the 1st January, 1938. This decision affected the border districts like Mymensingh from where large numbers of agriculturists go to Assam in search of agricultural land on account of heavy pressure on such lands in this province. During the last session of the Bengal Legislative Council a motion was carried for presenting an address to His Excellency requesting him to urge upon the Government of India to take immediate steps so that all existing restrictions imposed by the Government of Assam on cultivators from their province in getting settlement of land in the Assam Valley might be removed. Accordingly, the Government of Bengal requested the Government of Assam to withdraw or suspend the restrictions imposed by the said Resolution in the interest of inter-provincial amity and as a measure of relief to the distressed people of Bengal.

‘The Government of Assam have stated in reply that the policy regarding settlement of lands with immigrants has since been Iiberalised and that they are trying their level best to accelerate the process by de-reserving surplus lands in the professional grazing reserves in certain districts. The Government of Assam are, however, unable to abolish the restrictive measures wholly, particularly in areas where the tribal people are numerous, as these people apprehensive of the near approach of immigrants as a result of which many of them suffered in the past, but that Government have given an assurance that they will continue the process of gradual abolition of the restrictions and to open up fresh areas for immigrant settlement as far as is consistent with the necessity for reservation of lands for indigenous people and protection of the tribal classes.’

It is only necessary to make it clear that in doing so the Sadullah ministry went back on the decision of the late Governor of Assam, Sir Robert Reid, who after reviewing the land settlement policy had withdrawn a Development Scheme of Sir Saadullah's previous ministry. Sir Robert Reid had said in an article: ‘The indigenous Assam tribes who originally populated the area [Assam Valley] have been largely reinforced, not to say overrun, by a stream of vigorous Muhammadan immigrants from Mymensingh in Bengal. This gives satisfaction to the Muslim, but not the Hindu community, for the more Muhammadans you have in Assam, the stronger the case for Pakistan.’ The attack now is not only on the land falling out of the line in the system popularly known as the Line System whereby immigrants were confined to areas where they would not disturb the interests of the established population but also on what are known as the professional grazing reserves, whose sanctity has remained inviolate until recently since the beginning of the British rule, by de-reserving portions of such Reserves. It is in regard to these Reserves that the communique says that the Assam Government have given an assurance that they will continue the process of gradual abolition of restrictions and to open up fresh areas for immigrant settlement.

PINCER MOVEMENT AGAINST THE HINDUS OF ASSAM
There is thus a pincer movement against the Hindus of Assam-the significance of which cannot be lost on the Hindus and Tribes alike-one encouraging Muslims from Eastern Bengal; particularly Mymensingh district, to migrate into Assam and to take possession of land which the inhabitants of the areas concerned need for their own expansion and can ill-afford to lose; and the other separating the Tribes from the Hindus so as to reduce the number of the latter and thus convert them in course of time to minority or at least to present a picture in which no single community can be said to constitute a majority in the Province as a whole. The irony of the situation is that the enumeration of Tribes separately is justified by Mr Yeatts, the Census Commissioner of 1941, on the ground that it was necessary to obtain full figures of persons of tribal origin for whose benefit Sections 91 and 92 of the Government of India Act were enacted, and reserved or partially reserved areas, for which Governors had special responsibilities, were created. How these special responsibilities are being given effect to in regard to lands in Assam is apparent from the following quotation from a Report of Mr S. P. Desai, an experienced I.C.S. Officer of Assam: ‘The Assam Land and Revenue Regulation is, so far as the immigrant encroachers are concerned, virtually non-existent. The immigrants openly claim to have short-circuited the local staff and officers. Every day new bamboo sheds and temporary huts are ‘springing up in the reserves. I found that the immigrants absolutely ignored the local officers (from the Sub-divisional Officers downwards) so much so that they did not even answer questions put to them. The few Nepali graziers and Assamese Pamuas finding no protection from anywhere give “dohai” in the name of the King-Emperor. To this some of the thoughtless among the immigrants are said to have replied that the immigrants themselves are the King. Verily the cup of humiliation for the Assamese is full. They feel that the Iaw is meant for them and not for the immigrants, that the Government which is the custodian and trustee of their interests has failed them. All sections of the local population are greatly perturbed and their talk exhibits deep-seated bitterness.’

POLICY OF MUSLIM LEAGUE IN ASSAM
‘Encouraged by the policy of the Muslim League ministry and assisted by the immigrant members of the Legislative Assembly, these invading hordes of immigrants began to indulge in various acts of lawlessness and oppression such as maiming of cattle and buffaloes, riotous assaults on the graziers accompanied sometimes even by murder. This naturally raised resentment and indignation, throughout the country. In the session of the Legislative Assembly held in November 1944, the Government was severely criticized by the Opposition party which appeared in the Legislature as a body for the first time after two and a half years with other coalitionists. A suggestion was thrown out to Sir Muhammad Saadullah to convene a conference where the whole question of Land Settlement might be considered and action might be taken by Government in order to remove the grave discontent among the people. The Governor himself addressed, the Assembly on this subject, wishing peace and amity between the communities. Sir Muhammad accepted the offer of the opposition; and accordingly a conference was held in December 1944. In the conference the whole question of land settlement was examined in reference to two main points: (i) the adoption of a policy of planned settlement of waste lands with landless people of the soil along with the immigrants, who were unduly favoured hitherto, and of protection to the Tribal people in belts to be specially reserved for them; and (ii) to maintain the integrity of the Grazing Reserves by eviction of trespassers therefrom. But the resolution which was adopted by Government in January 1945 after the conference did not include the safeguards agreed upon in the conference and in some particulars went against the fundamentals of the decisions of the conference itself. For example, the decision of the conference was that the claim to waste land would be confined only to immigrants who came to Assam before 1938; but in the Government resolution exceptions were made in case of certain kinds of encroachers into the Grazing Reserves who came even after 1938, and wide discretion was given to the local officers to keep in possession encroachers who had been in occupation of and cultivating land in the grazing reserves over three years.' As regards settlement of waste land, any person having five bighas of land was not considered entitled to any settlement; and as most of the indigenous cultivators had such quantity of land but not enough for an economic holding, this clause operated as a serious disqualification to their getting settlement. Similarly the area which was to have been reserved for the Tribal people was not defined, leaving room for much uncertainty and confusion. The matter was again taken up by the Assembly in its Budget session in March 1945. By this time the Opposition had gained some strength and Sir Muhammad Saadullah, evidently afraid of a defeat and resignation, entered into an agreement with the Opposition. He agreed to remove his old Muslim League Revenue Minister, and actually took a nominee from the Opposition in his place. After the prorogation of the Assembly, however, Sir Saadullah instead of implementing the agreement as early as possible took as much as three months time merely to frame and publish the new resolution. The report now is that he and other Muslim League ministers of his cabinet are putting all manner of obstruction in the execution of the policy agreed to by him. It is also being reported that the Muslim League leader Mr. Mohammad, Ali Jinnah is issuing for adoption by the Cabinet instructions which go against the basic policy of the agreement. In the meantime the dissolution of the Assembly is in sight, and there is no knowing how the whole situation will shape hereafter.

LEAGUE'S DEMAND FOR INCLUSION OF ASSAM INVALID
In spite of all this, however, the Hindus are still in larger numbers in the Province as a whole than the Muslims. If the Tribes are added to the Hindus, then, so combined they constitute a larger majority. It may be noted that the League Resolution lays down that the constituent units of the two zones shall be autonomous and sovereign. It is unintelligible how Assam with a non Muslim majority and with only 33.73 per cent Muslims in its population can be an 'autonomous and sovereign' Muslim state.

VIEWS OF B.K. NEHRU, ICS
B.K.Nehru ICS was Governor of Assam, NEFA and Nagaland in the late 1960s. In his autobiography Nice Guys Finish Second (1997), he has recorded the following: Then there was a large and increasing number of Bengali Muslims who had been encouraged to migrate from the areas now in Bangladesh to Assam since the 1930s by a Muslim League ministry headed by Sir Mohammed Saadulla. The import of these farmers was at first welcomed by the Assamese. There was plenty of land, the Assamese was by nature easy-going and lazy and, therefore, not a good cultivator. (The Assamese, having a good sense of humour, themselves tell many jokes about their own laziness!) He was delighted that there was someone else to do the work and give him part of the fruits of his labour which was indeed more that he had ever got himself. The land had soon run short, but the influx continued. Lord Wavell notes in his diary in 1945 that while the reason for the encouragement of this migration was officially justified as being to grow more food, the real object  was to grow more Mohammadans. (That influx still continues, the political frontier between the two countries means nothing).

VIEWS OF B.K. NEHRU, ICS
B.K.Nehru ICS was Governor of Assam, NEFA and Nagaland in the late 1960s. In his autobiography Nice Guys Finish Second (1997), he has recorded the following: Then there was a large and increasing number of Bengali Muslims who had been encouraged to migrate from the areas now in Bangladesh to Assam since the 1930s by a Muslim League ministry headed by Sir Mohammed Saadulla. The import of these farmers was at first welcomed by the Assamese. There was plenty of land, the Assamese was by nature easy-going and lazy and, therefore, not a good cultivator. (The Assamese, having a good sense of humour, themselves tell many jokes about their own laziness!) He was delighted that there was someone else to do the work and give him part of the fruits of his labour which was indeed more that he had ever got himself. The land had soon run short, but the influx continued. Lord Wavell notes in his diary in 1945 that while the reason for the encouragement of this migration was officially justified as being to grow more food, the real object  was to grow more Mohammadans. (That influx still continues, the political frontier between the two countries means nothing).

Comments.

April 2017

Editorial
Editorial

Reader's Write
Don't Fall Prey To Communal Instigation

Reader's Write
Defining The Minority

Media
The Destruction Of Mecca

Media
Pew Research Puts Islam As Most Popular Religion By’ 70

Ideology
Pakistan 'Kills 100 Militants' After In Sufi Shrine

Online Books
Prafull Goradia Website
Fico Tech
 


Write


Read

© janasangh.com 2017 Designed & Hosted by GreenMindz