The attacks on the people of Northeast due to the spurt of a series of rumour mongering across the country in the aftermath of the sectarian violence in Assam’s Kokrajhar and other districts has highlighted the weaknesses of  the nation’s internal security apparatus. The exodus of the people of northeast from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and other states completed the remaining parts of the tragic story of communal hatred. This incident accentuated Centre’s failure on the subject of internal security. What can be more shocking than the incidences of violence in rest parts of India as a result of communal tension in a particular region of the country and failure of the Centre as well as the state government in curbing such happenings? It is a matter of shame that northeastern people are being targeted in various parts of the country and the victims are rushing back to their native states. The first and foremost thing in this regard is that Assam government is primarily guilty in this case as it failed to stub out violence in the affected districts of the state. And the Centre tried to cover up the failure of the state government. Such shoddiness on parts of the state government and the Centre resulted into hooliganism by anti-social elements.

Since the government in Assam is led by Congress, the Centre remained a mute spectator to the incidences of violence and did not try to trace the root cause behind the crisis. It did not bother to know whether the state government was properly discharging its responsibilities in curbing the violence. As far as the reasons behind Assam violence are concerned, the Bodo community believes that illegal migrants from Bangladesh have deformed the demographic shape of the entire region. Another reason for the wrath of the Bodo community lies in non-implementation of the agreement struck by Rajiv Gandhi government in 1985. The way the population of Bangladeshi migrants has swelled during past one and half decade has made the natives of Assam believe that their right on the sources of livelihood is in danger.
The state government has always tried to veil the ground reality. First it alleged that the late intervention of the army was responsible for the wide spread violence. Later many reasons were suggested for the spread of the violence. Since the Assam government denied seizing the initiative to stub out the spread of violence, the situation became so grim. The seriousness of the situation could be gauged from the fact that nearly three lakh people have been forced to live in refugee camps due to the bloodshed and the Chief Minister himself is admitting that it could take at least 2-3 months for the situation to normalize. Unfortunately, the Centre is still keeping mum on the issue of infiltration from Bangladesh to Assam. Despite the fact that the population of Bangladeshi migrants has increased manyfold during the last 3-4 decades, it is difficult to decipher why the Centre has been keeping mum over the issue. Migration from Bangladesh is an old issue and a lot of politics has been played on this. Earlier ULFA and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) were of the view that all Bangladeshis including those people coming from different parts of India should be driven out of Assam. Once, the issue had snowballed into a national problem. Later, not only ULFA’s divisive strategy was foiled but the Asom Gana Parishad too got marginalized in the state politics. Congress capitalized on the situation and it succeeded in winning past three state assembly polls. Now it is being witnessed that the ruling Congress too is hamstrung by the same kind of flaws especially on the front of law and order which affect a ruling party enjoying power for such a long time.

The situation in Assam as well as in other parts of the country worsened as the government machinery failed to check the inflammatory contents posted on internet sites or sent through SMSes. A public meeting held to protest Assam riots turned violent and created anarchy in Mumbai. Centre decided to restrict the sending of bulk massages when forced mass exodus of Northeast people living in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra began. Prime Minister and Home Minister might be claiming that the situation is under control, but government’s position is questionable as the people from Northeast are not sure about their safety.

It is too early to conclude that the new Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is unable to deal with the challenges of internal security properly but at the same time it cannot be ignored that the incidences taking place after he assumed charge are very serious in nature and are nothing less than a major challenge for him. It is quite natural that the main opposition party BJP has been raising its decibel levels so aggressively over the issue of national security. When the Prime Minister only spoke only to Karnataka Chief Minister about the attacks on the people from Northeast in the state, it provided the BJP enough ammunition to target the Centre. However, the BJP should be mindful of the fact that it is impossible to drive away Bangladeshis from our territory. Even its own NDA government had failed to take any concrete measure in this direction.

The Centre has not only got the opportunity to induce a sense of safety and security among the people of Northeast but it has also got the responsibility to find out if there is any major conspiracy behind violence in Assam. The government will have to take some concrete measures to destroy the root cause behind infiltration by Bangladeshi people. It is not an easy task to spot illegal Bangladeshi migrants living in Assam. Centre is required to display a strong will power in this matter and avoid sticking to vested political interests. When the livelihood of one community becomes an enormous burden on the resources of a particular region then this situation causes problems to the people of other communities living there.

The way the violence in one part of Assam disturbed the peace and harmony in other parts of the country and thousands of people of Northeast got forced to opt mass exodus, it clearly tells that miscreants succeed in giving a communal colour to the entire matter. It also highlighted that the people from other parts of the country have hardly any knowledge about the Northeastern region of the country. It can be concluded that the Centre too has its own share of blame for this situation as it has only been trying to influence the people of this region by only announcing dole outs instead of taking a concrete step for their progress. This is the reason why the people of Northeast could not politically and socially be assimilated with the people of the other parts of the country. Situation will change when more and more people from Northeast will be allowed to come to other parts of the country in search of jobs and sources of livelihood. But if they are intimidated due to any reason, the problems of the Northeastern states and other parts of the country as well will only scale up.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on August 19, 2012 translated by the English Editorial. The author is Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)