BJP States in Northeast Create Clamour on Alleged Undocumented Immigrants

The noise being made around illegal immigration coincides with Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh holding "infiltrators" responsible for violence in the state.

New Delhi: At a time when Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh, along with some Meitei civil society groups, are accusing the Kukis of harbouring ‘illegal immigrants’ from Myanmar, and citing this as one of the root causes of the ongoing conflict, the bogey of ‘immigrants’ from the conflict-ridden neighbouring country entering the region ‘illegally’ is increasingly being pushed by governments in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states in the northeast.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, for instance, recently said that Assam is being used as a corridor by “Rohingya infiltrators” from Bangladesh to either go to Delhi or Kashmir with the help of some brokers in Tripura. He also called the amount of “infiltration” “alarming”, saying the Assam police has gone to Tripura to try and capture such brokers. Reports claim that the police have arrested at least one such broker.

The Tripura police too has got involved and responded to Sarma’s statements, saying they are acting against the kind of brokers the Assam chief minister mentioned. The police claimed to have arrested “354 illegal immigrants, including Rohingyas and border touts/facilitators” just this year.

The police has several times in the last few days said that undocumented immigrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh were being arrest, including 11 people arrested earlier this month.

This alleged concern about migration is also being pushed by certain civil society groups. For instance, the All Assam Students Union held a joint conclave with the All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union on Saturday to demand the removal of allegedly undocumented Chakma immigrants from Arunachal.

The Chakma Development Foundation of India has rejected the allegations that the Chakma have entered illegally, with its founder Suhas Chakma saying, “The Chakmas are not illegal immigrants in Arunachal Pradesh. About 14,000 Chakmas and Hajongs were settled in then North Eastern Frontier Agency (NEFA) during 1964-1969 by the competent authority i.e. Union of India, with the definite plan for their permanent settlement under a scheme that provided lands for each family. The scheme was developed to ensure India’s security following the 1962 Indo-China war. The children of these migrants are voting in the State Assembly and Parliamentary Elections and are citizens of India.”

He also added that Arunachal Pradesh does not share a border with Bangladesh and so would not have easy access for undocumented immigrants. “If there are illegal immigrants in Arunachal Pradesh, they do not belong to any particular community. Arunachal Pradesh shares borders with Myanmar and China and not Bangladesh. To target the Chakmas as illegal immigrant only is nothing but xenophobia which is burning the North Eastern region. It appears that the lessons of the riots in Manipur are not being learnt,” he continued.