GUWAHATI, Oct 20 - The number of illegal migrants of Bangladesh origin in Assam should be in the range of 60 lakh to 100 lakh, felt octogenarian technocrat-turned educationist Pradip Kumar Bhuyan.
He was the man behind the Supreme Court case on updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Talking to this journalist, Bhuyan said that no one probably knows with any degree of authority as to what is the actual number of the illegal Bangladeshi migrants in Assam. This is because there is no authentic data as to how many people from Bangladesh entered Assam due to atrocities by the Pakistan army.
There is obscurity also in matters of the figures concerning the illegal migrants entering Assam through its porous border with Bangladesh since 1971, he said.
But based on the statement made by the then Union Minister Prakash Jaiswal in Parliament on July 14, 2004 and also the figure of excess voters in Assam cited by litigant Abhijeet Sarma in his petition before the Supreme Court of India in the NRC case, one may arrive at some plausible answer on this matter, he said.
Jaiswal is on record to have said that the estimated number of illegal Bangla nationals in Assam as on December 31, 2003 was 50 lakh. If we project it at 25 per cent decadal growth rate, that is 2.5 per cent annually, then in 2015, the population of illegal Bangla nationals in Assam would be about 65 lakh, or so.
This figure cannot be disputed as it is based on the reply of the Union Government in Parliament, which covered the population of illegal Bangla nationals in other states of the country too.
According to the Election Commission figures cited by Abhijeet Sarma in his petition in 2009 before the Supreme Court of India on the NRC case, there were 41 lakh �excess� voters in Assam�s voters lists.
The �excess� voters, over and above all India voters� growth rate, were assumed to be Bangla nationals illegally staying in Assam. Significantly, none of the respondents in the petition, including the Election Commission, contradicted this assertion made by the petitioner.
Thus, based on the above figure, if one surmises that there was 41 lakh �excess� voters in Assam in 2006, it will lead one to conclude that the size of the population of illegal Bangla migrants in Assam was 82 lakh in 2006, taking 50 per cent of the population as a thumb rule method.
If this 2006 figure is projected to 2015, as per the All-India decadal population growth rate of 21 per cent, or the annual 2.1 per cent, the resultant figure appears to be 97 lakh in 2015.
In addition, one may take into consideration the fact that the decadal population growth rate of Assam as the census reports between 1980 and 2011 is only 20 per cent. But the growth rate of voters in the State during this period is more than 35 per cent.
In reality, the population growth rate must be near about the voters� growth rate. Even if we assume Assam�s decadal population growth rate at 28 per cent conservatively, then based on Assam�s population of 180 lakhs in 1981, it will become 420 lakhs in 2015. But the census population of 2015 as projected from the 2011 census is only 339 lakhs. The difference of 420-339 = 81 lakhs can be deemed to be illegal Bangladeshis.
The above are based on the facts and official statistics as available, and we can safely say that the illegal Bangladeshi population in Assam may range between 60-65 lakhs to 100 lakhs.
Again, according to a July 26, 2018 Times of India report, the Central agencies believe that one crore, that is 100 lakh people had not applied for inclusion of their names in the NRC. This means that there were 100 lakh illegal Bangla migrants in Assam in 2015, said the octogenarian citizen.