GUWAHATI, Sept 24 - Over the years, since the pre-Independence days, successive rulers and governments had failed to pay due attention to warnings given by persons with authority on the threat posed by migration of outsiders to Assam, resulting in the present state of affairs in the State. It has even forced the committee for protection of land rights of indigenous people of Assam to comment that illegal migration is the biggest threat faced by the people of the State.
Way back in 1931, SC Mullan, the then Census Superintendent of Assam, commented that migration from East Bengal (now Bangladesh) would pose a greater threat to Assam than the notorious Burmese invasion in the 1820s and it would alter the future of the State. Subsequently, other such persons with authority sounded strong warning signals but the governments turned a blind eye to it rather than taking effective measures to deal with the problem.
Mullan in his report described the gravity of the situation and warned that if the situation is allowed to continue, �Sivasagar district will be the only part of Assam in which an Assamese will find himself at home.�
Mullan in his 1931 report had said that the most important event in the Assam province in the past 25 years was migration of people from East Bengal. He had warned that such migration would permanently alter the future of Assam and would destroy Assamese culture and civilization more than the Burmese invaders did in the 1820s.
He reported that �a vast horde of land hungry Bengalis, mostly Muslims, started migrating to Assam from East Bengal districts sometime in 1911. The Bengali immigrants, who were first brought under census for the first time in 1921 on their char islands in Goalpara, were merely the advance guards or scouts of a large army following close on their heels. By 1921, they virtually conquered Goalpara.�
The report went on to say that the way they seized upon the vast vacant areas of the Assam valley was almost uncanny and �without fuss over half a million of people from East Bengal districts migrated to the Assam valley and such movement can be compared with a mass movement of a large body of ants.�
The report of the then Census officer clearly indicated that he could foresee the problems that Assam would face in the days to come because of illegal migration, but unfortunately, the political leaders of the State failed to understand the gravity of the situation over the years.
However, Mullan was not the first and last such person to point out the dangers. EH Pakyntein, the Superintendent of Census operations in Assam in 1961, noted, �from 1901 onwards, the men from Mymensingh began to advance to Assam, apparently driven by pressure on the soil at home. They were joined by the people of other East Bengal (now Bangladesh) districts in less numbers.�
SL Shakdher, the then Chief Election Commission of India, admitted in 1978 that names of foreigners were included in the voters� lists of India. He said, �in Assam, population in 1971 recorded an increase as high as 34.98 per cent and this increase was attributed to the influx of a very large number of persons from the neighbouring countries. The influx has become a regular feature. A stage will be reached when the State would have to reckon with the foreign nationals who may probably constitute a sizeable percentage, if not the majority of the population of the State.�