Change citizens’ mindset to solve illegal immigration

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By: Okenjeet Sandham 

When the Ao Students Conference launched a massive crackdown on the illegal immigrants in the Nagaland’s Mokokchung district, Assam government made hue and cry saying the so-called illegal immigrants pouring in their territory in the wake of the crackdown were only “Indians.” The fact is today Assam has been virtually held ransom by these illegal immigrants coming from across the country. The recent serial bomb blasts in Assam are the glaring example. Assam has 126 MLAs in the assembly and out of which, 24 are Muslims. 4 Muslim legislators are holding various ministries in the government. The Muslims are calling the shots in Assam politics. Whenever any harsh words hurled against any Muslim leader in the state, the Muslim bodies in Assam threatened to push out all Assamese people from the districts of Goalpara, Dhubri and Barpeta.
The total number of districts in Assam with Muslims as majority has risen to six. They are Dhubri (74.29%), Barpeta (59.30%), Goalpara (53.71%), Hailakandi (57.6%) and Karimganj (52.3%). It is also believed that Darrang and Bongaigoan must have become Muslim-majority districts after the tribal-dominated Udalguri and Chirang districts were carved out of them. The most interesting trend in the Dhing assembly constituency, which falls in Nagoan district of central Assam, is 90.02% voters are Muslims.
Once former Assam governor SK Sinha in his report on the illegal immigration into the state to the President of India: “The influx of these illegal migrants is turning these (lower Assam) districts into a Muslim-majority region. It will then only be a matter of time when demand for the merger with Bangladesh may be made. The rapid growth of international Islamic fundamentalism may provide the driving force for this demand… Loss of Lower Assam will severe the entire land mass of the Northeast, from the rest of India.”
When the student community under the banner of the Naga Students Federation (NSF) detected hundreds of non-locals who did not possess ILPs and its news spread in various regional and national papers, Muslims particularly from the lower Assam sharply reacted to the acts of the Naga students. They issued a strong warning that if the ongoing drive of the Naga students did not stop, they would resort to harassing the Nagas particularly the students studying in their areas.
According to unofficial sources, one-third of Nagaland’s population is non-locals and out of which 90 per cent are Muslims. That is about 5 lakh population in Nagaland are Muslims. It is believed that 95 per cent of the Muslims staying in Nagaland are illegal Bangladeshis who have come via Assam.
For them, it is do or die. It is a survival matter for them. They will do to any extent no matter how the work is humanly unfeasible. These unethical labor system devised by these desperate illegal migrants with the sole idea of penetrating to core of every system in Nagaland, the work culture and dignity of labor which once the Naga forefathers enjoyed have been considerably destroyed. One of the most dangerous trends the Naga citizens do not know is these illegal migrants employed widely for domestic chores are given allowed to freely mix-up with their children, access to the secret rooms, kitchens, etc. At times, they even left their home for days and weeks to these people of doubtful integrity. Today a Naga doesn’t trust his fellow Naga. But they trust these people and allowing them to rule the roost in their most sacred homes. A dangerous trend, indeed!
The other day a minor girl of 9 was raped by an illegal Bangladeshi at Tuli in Mukokchung district. The rapist is a domestic helper who raped the minor of his master when the family members were away. This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are crimes committed by illegal migrants and many go unnoticed.
Angami Students Union (ASU) has also initiated measures to check the illegal migrants particularly the state capital, Kohima from time to time. They have adopted the policy of issuing IDs to those non-locals staying in the capital. Sometimes, the student body has drawn flaks from various quarters for doing the administrative jobs. The serious point is there is no trust to the district administration as far as ILP issue is concerned. There had been reports of ILP rackets. Dimapur is another gateway of influx of these immigrants of doubtful integrity. The administration there has been randomly issuing ILP or temporary slip of 15 days to enter into the state capital, Kohima. This temporary slip has become a permanent license for them to entrench in the state capital or elsewhere in the state.
On the other hand, the district administration expressed their difficulty saying so-called “illegal immigrants” were well equipped with sufficient documentary proofs of being domiciled in neighboring Assam. As such they are very much Indian citizens and ILP is normally issued on the basis of these documents.
In the past, the NSF also launched drive to check the ILP defaulters and other non-locals with the main intention of detecting illegal immigrants. Defaulters were herded and sent to police station. Within hours, these defaulters would be released by their local keepers. “In a way, we can’t blame to anybody for such influx but ourselves,” said a police officer. “It is we the locals who employed them with the full knowledge that they are illegal immigrants. Sometimes, the locals who are keeping these people are not even bothered to know the background of such people before employing them. They are simply allowed to stay with them. In a way, we are largely responsible for all these happening in the state.”
Again the Ao Students Conference served “quit notice” to the illegal immigrants with December 15 as deadline. Despite student body’s concerted efforts to stamp out dreaded “illegal immigrants” from the district, Mokokchung, the disease refuses to die down. It is becoming cancerous.
The problem is porters, laborers, mechanics, shoes menders, barber, traders, merchants, taxi drivers, construction workers, are mostly non-locals. Once they are driven out, the next day the Nagas will face problem. Even after 45 years of statehood, most of these manual works and business activities are done by the non-locals. Because today’s Naga youth feel they are not labor-class people; should not work in the garage; should not engage in vegetable trading or other house construction works. This is the place where citizens today start talking of the lack of work culture in Naga society and lost of their dignity of labor. Unless they are first prepared to do all these jobs they feel for others, things will not improve. You will still demand outsiders who will continue to stay.
One can learn lesson from the youth of Mokokchung district. They once did the coolie and porter jobs. That has become an eye opener for other youth to emulate and proved that they were equally capable if not more than that of porters from Bihar and UP.
It is really a complicated task to detect these illegal immigrants from the state. The citizens have to change their mindsets towards the work culture. They have to cross check the backgrounds of the people before being employed, if their integrity is being doubted. The ILP racket should be busted and there should be a close coordination with counterparts specially Assam in detecting the menace. There should be more seminars and public debates to find what way they can play their role towards solving the problem.

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