Compromising National Security

Harsha Kakar
In 1983, the Government of India enacted the Illegal Immigration (Determination by Tribunal) Act (IMDT), as the means to detect foreigners, mainly Bangladeshi migrants in Assam. This was only valid for one state, while for the rest of the country, it was the Foreigners Act 1946. This act made it difficult to deport illegal Bangladeshi migrants, as the onus of proving the status was of the state, the opposite of the Foreigners Act. It led to a rapid rise of minority population, culminating in demographic changes. The act was finally struck down by the Supreme Court in 2005, however by then, the damage had been done. This was the prime cause of militancy in the state. As early as 1998, the Governor of Assam, General Sinha (Retired), stated that the act is detrimental to India’s national security, however his pleas were ignored. The act changed the political landscape and the Congress gained immensely in elections,with support of the migrants. Itwas a case of politics gaining the upper hand over national security and is not the only instance.
In West Bengal, the districts bordering Bangladesh, are flux with illegal migrants.Malda, Dinajpur (North and South), Cooch Behar and Mushirabad are some where there has been prominent inflow of Bangladeshis, affecting demographic changes. Communal clashes are spreading across the state, with reports from Malda, 24 Parganas, Birbhum, West Midnapore and Hooghly. Incidents of bomb blasts led to the police arresting supporters of Jamaat-ul-MujahideenBangladesh (JMB) in Burdwan. The National Intelligence Agency (NIA)believes that the JMB is seeking to establish bases in border districts for manufacturing explosive devices, which are subsequently transported to Bangladesh. These areas could soon become staging areas for terrorists attacking targets within India as also for pushing fake currency into the country.
The Chief Minister of West Bengal refuses to accept reports on communal clashes, change of demography and existence of bases of JMBin West Bengal, instead terms them as a fantasy of the media. The reasonfor rejecting communal violence could be fear of further spread of the same in the state, if it is accepted. Any admission of changes in demography due to influx of illegal migrants could affect secure vote banks in future elections. However, there is no thought to impact on national security since it does not concern the state as much as vote bank politics and ensuring continuation of power.
Barely a month ago, Mamta Banerjee, created a scenario of an attempted coup in her state by the army, solely on the presence of a few unarmed soldiers conducting an annual data collection exercise at various toll plazas. Protests by her party workers, carried away by her comments and action of locking herself in her office for the night, sparked tension in the city. It compelled the army, which normally stays away from issues political, to give statements and prove that the exercise was normal and regular, as also that the state government and police were aware. Her anger against the centre and failure to stem demonetization, led her to take this step.
Recently, Farooq and Omar Abdullah announced their open support to the separatists in their demands for ‘Azadi’. They promised to continue supporting the Hurriyat’s demand and Farooq even went on to tell the separatists, ‘we are not against you, but with you’. These comments come at a time when the Valley is limping back to normalcy after a violent summer. Their continued criticism of all actions of the government, by daily tweets, at the height of the agitation, indicates their desperation to regain lost support in the state, irrespective of the impact on national security or the local population. The same National Conference, while in power, had openly stated that’Azadi’ was not possible and the separatists were not helping in the growth of the state. Switching from criticism to support only to gain votes is natural for hardened politicians.
At the height of disturbances in the Valley, there were other political leaders suggesting that the government commence dialogue with Pakistan and the separatists, knowing that they were behind the protests and had no desire to talk, as was evident when the separatists even refused to meet parliamentary delegation members. Had the Government even proposed talks with separatists, the situation would have possibly only grown worse and their stand hardened, as they would have suddenly come into the limelight. In fact, there have been occasions, irrespective of the Government in power at the centre, when Indo-Pak talks have been called off, solely because of Pakistan’s interaction with the separatists. The latest battle between political parties in J&K on granting identity certificates to West Pakistan refugees, who are Hindus and relocating Rohingya Muslims refugees presently residing in the state. Clearly a case of exploiting religion for political gains.
In a recent report the NIA discovered that the Nagaland Government was routing funds to insurgent groups active in the State. There were almost a dozen Government Departments of the state involved in this dealing. These are the very groups whom security forces are battling at great cost to lives on a daily basis.
The above are only a few examples of politicians and political parties ignoring national security for personal gains. They are willing to truck with any anti-national element, if it assures them votes and power.For them, the desire to think beyond the state and look at the nation and its people, is utopian. Their desperation to secure and retain power, irrespective of national cause is only growing with time. There is no hesitation when it comes to ignoring national security interests, for solely political gains. Such action in many cases has resulted in breaking down of law and order, as also increased communal violence, hurting the common man. Presently no laws exist which can ban or prevent such comments. It can only happen, when we Indians raise our voices and seek the creation of laws contrary to such actions.
(The author is a retired Major                           General of the Indian Army)


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