GUWAHATI, Aug 31 - Asserting that Assam was a casualty of Partition and the State bore a disproportionate share of �refugees� and �economic migrants�, noted journalist, political commentator and Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta today said India must recognize the concerns and sentiments of the State.
Delivering the Harendra Nath Baruah Memorial Lecture on the topic �Assam�s problems are India�s problems�, Dasgupta drew parallel between the situation in Assam and the West and said what is happening in Assam reflects a global trend of cultural assertion and the problem is not unique to the State as many �intellectuals� feel.
�The spillover of partition affected the States of Assam, West Bengal and Punjab which saw a huge movement of refugees. The problem was more in the eastern part because the borders were porous and not defined. Assam had to take an excessive burden of both refugees and economic migrants, which has slowly become a threat to its cultural identity. There had always been a danger that Assamese would become minority,� Dasgupta said, referring to the changing demography of Assam�s border districts which is �more than a question of abstract human rights�.
He pointed out that failure to manage the international border was one of the key reasons which led to the unabated ingress of migrants. �Now, however, the issue of porous border is getting some tentative importance,� he said.
Dasgupta also claimed that India had never been robust about its citizenship laws and at the same time there was a �failure of democracy� as illegal migrants have made their way into the electoral rolls.
�There is no doubt that Assam needed NRC. The intelligentsia in India has failed to recognize it. But now we have reached some stage � even if it might not be perfect and this would not have happened if Assam had not raised its voice,� he asserted.
Dasgupta also raised some pertinent questions as what would happen to the foreigners detected after the NRC is updated. �Can we expel them from the electoral rolls? Can we ensure that the land and resources are not alienated? It is time people start thinking on these lines. There will also be a question on how do we define refugees and economic migrants and how much burden of refugees Assam can take? Assam gave a lot to be a part of India and India must recognize its sentiments,� he said.
At the memorial function organized by Harendra Nath Baruah Memorial Trust, Editor of The Assam Tribune PG Baruah and proprietor of Sadin-Pratidin Group Jayanta Baruah were felicitated by the trust for their contribution in the field of journalism.
In his brief address, PG Baruah said the title �Asompran� was very apt for Harendra Nath Baruah and the ideals set by him were still very much relevant in present day journalism.
The function was chaired by veteran journalist DN Bezbaruah.
Distinguished guests lit the ceremonial light and paid tributes to Harendra Nath Baruah at the beginning of the programme. Two books � one a compilation of articles by Harendra Nath Baruah and another a collection of write-ups of his son Rajib Prakash Baruah � were also released at the function.