NEW DELHI, Oct 24 - With the threat of the indigenous population of Assam being reduced to a minority by the year 2047 looming large, a panel has recommended that the Supreme Court should order a high-powered inquiry into a number of issues concerning the illegal migration from Bangladesh.
The third report on �The India-Bangladesh international boundary� submitted to the Apex Court by the one-man Commission led by Upamanyu Hazarika, is also the most crucial and comprehensive one. The Supreme Court is expected to take up the report at the next hearing.
The Supreme Court had constituted the Commission on July 7 last. After considering the first two reports, the Apex Court passed an order directing the Union of India and the Government of Assam to take corrective measures.
As a Bangladeshi passport holder can not only own land in Assam but also contest an Assembly election, it shows that the illegal migrant lobby has struck deep roots in Assam. Therefore, the necessity, for an independent investigation and an enquiry into these nexuses and all the facts in this regard, cannot be overstated, it was recommended in the report.
It is only after unearthing the nexuses and the relevant facts in this connection that the Apex Court will be able to pass correct and appropriate orders. Furthermore, the unearthing of such nexuses and concomitant facts will be a valuable guide to laying down the procedure for verification of the antecedents of those who have applied to be included in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) as also clearing the land under encroachment.
It is, therefore, suggested that this Court may consider setting up a high-powered committee to investigate.
The report, quoting Indrajit Baruah who has been involved in studying the problem since the Assam Agitation, said that he has undertaken a statistical analysis of the change in the demographic pattern, and by extrapolating the population growth figures in Assam has arrived at the finding that the indigenous population will become a minority by 2047, the report said.
The Hazarika Commission, which has undertaken extensive tours of the Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam, suggested that there should be a restriction in the transfer of land � whether by way of sale, purchase, gift or any other such transaction, or by way of allotment from the government or any other agency � only to those who have been citizens of India in the year 1951 and their descendants.
The report has made a number of recommendations, including creation of a �sterile zone� along the Indo-Bangladesh border. Although the operational agency guarding the border on the ground is clearly in favour of creation of a sterile zone, a policy decision from the Central and State government is still awaited. In the last two months, neither government has intimated its views in this regard and the Supreme Court may ascertain the same, the report stated.
The Commission has endorsed the proposal made by the Deputy Commissioner of Karimganj in 2013 to the Government of Assam for relocating villages inside the fence. It appears that this proposal was not acted upon by the Assam government and this document can form a benchmark for relocating these villages, it said.
Referring to vulnerable patches along the international border, the Commission said that the issue has two facets: conversion of areas with an open riverine international boundary into a sterile zone, coupled with an additional battalion. It is now for the Ministry of Home Affairs to take a decision on raising an additional battalion. One aspect which has been highlighted by the BSF Dhubri sector is the introduction of technical innovation by way of installation of radars, CCTV, unmanned Aerial vehicle (UAV), etc.
The Commission has also called for review of the �Non-Lethal Policy� of the BSF, as it is obvious that this policy is for reducing the number of death of smugglers, which translates to encouraging miscreants and smugglers. It is suggested that the Supreme Court may ascertain the view of the Ministry of Home Affairs as also the implication of following a non-lethal policy.
About the problem of cattle smuggling, the report said that it has shown a phenomenal increase this year and over the last few years, and it is therefore imperative that the shifting of the cattle haats, customs impound centre on the international border and having a system of ascertaining credentials of auction and purchasers be implemented immediately.
What has been held by the Supreme Court more than 10 years ago, in the Sarbananda Sonowal case, still holds good on the ground. In fact, the situation has become worse. In spite of all these facts being within the knowledge of the Central and State governments, the influx into Assam and into new areas of Assam continues unabated and in spite of being patently illegal, the governments have gone out of their way to support foreigners in direct contravention of rights of citizens and indigenous inhabitants, the report said.