How much is enough ?

B L Saraf
Post Mumbai terror attacks (11/26 ) ” Enough is enough ” became a battle cry for the Page 3 celebrities and some intellectuals , signalling zero tolerance towards the terrorist and sectarian violence , perpetrated by the extra- territorial actors and their obliging insiders . It became fashionable to chant the mantra in show of ‘ real ‘ concern for the safety and integrity of the country and the country men . The Government too initiated activity of sorts to prevent the mischief and assure the countrymen . However, safety still eludes us and there is no end to the menace, which continues to show its ugly face at the regular intervals at the places of its choosing . It seems that we have inflated the word ‘ enough ‘ to such a volume as to accommodate the sea full of woes being unabatedly inflicted on us across the borders , we have with our not so friendly neighbours . The recent ethnic turmoil in some parts of Assam , where lakhs have been thrown out of their houses to take shelter in the relief camps, calls for a look at the matter.
The parallel may be odd. But then we are living in turbulent times that an overtly convoluted word or action becomes norm of the day .So , oddness of the parallel should not surprise us .In their book How Much is Enough Robert Skidelsky and his son Edward have ventured to draw the line between enough and excess . The book is written in the background of decades of economic content in Europe and the US and the prevailing financial crisis of the past five years. The authors then come up with a couple of parameters to fix the line. Do we have such a line where a limit can be put on the word ‘ enough ‘? We have Assam’s latest bursting security situation and its ominous signs of country wide fallout . The problem at the root is illegal immigration of Bangladeshis to the State .The illegal immigrants have inundated Dhubri and Kokhrajar areas of the Bodo domain . Bodos are the aborigines and their area is administered by the Bodo Territorial Council . The influx of the Bangladeshis have squeezed their lands and pushed them to the wall.
There is no denying that huge illegal infiltration from East Pakistan first and then from Bangladesh has taken place. The situation became so acute that in early 1980s Assam came to the boil, which resulted in Assam Accord, signed in 1985 by PM Rajiv Gandhi and AASU – the student leaders leading an agitation against the infiltration. However, the Congress government at the Centre did not put the Accord in practice. On the contrary, it brought a skewed law to deal with the problem which, instead of solving the problem, complicated the matters to the great advantage of the illegal immigrants. The Apex Court saw through the absurdity and struck down the law. It will be very pertinent to note what did the Court say while striking down the IMDT Act . In the case reported in 2005 ( 5 ) SCC 665 it said ” Illegal migration not only affects the people of Assam but has more dangerous dimensions of greatly undermining our national security. ISI is very active in Bangladesh ……” This observation was based on the secret report sent by Assam governor to the President in 1988. Will any body listen to these words of caution ? Certainly not the Congress led UPA government at the Centre. It sees a big chunk of the illegal immigrants as a captive vote bank – a consideration which has blinded the central government to the impending catastrophe , very well seen by the then Assam governor and noted with serious concern by the Supreme Court .
The unfortunate aspect of the problem is that some undesirable elements have succeeded in communalising the Assam situation . We hear the reverberations in Mumbai and some southern states. A few hooligans of a particular community have taken Mumbai to the ransom, assaulted police and burnt down public property. It was very disturbing to see an all out assault on the symbol of Indian nation. In a display of deep rooted hatred for the Indian nation and the national symbols, the anti -national elements brazenly vandalized Amar JawanJyoti in central Mumbai. The residents of Northeast States, presently living in some southern cities, are being threatened, triggering their exodus. In Assam a communal distinction is made among the illegal migrants to muddy the situation . Yes , Bangladeshi Hindus are also part of the illegal migration . But then their case has to be viewed a bit differently. They have been the victims of persecution in their country, as we so notice in the latest influx of Hindus from Pakistan. Theirs’s is a tale of pain and agony. As reported by the independent circles in Pakistan, Pakistani Hindus have suffered the covetous eye of the prying land-lords cast on their properties and the young girls. Such could be the suffering of some among the Muslim community as well. Therefore , a distinction has to be made between the infiltrators and the genuine refugees among the whole lot of illegal migrants from Bangladesh . Necessary corollary follows that it is time India has a policy and the laws on refugee issues , amnesty and asylum matters and on immigration problems .
Still, all is not lost . In Mumbai and some southern cities we have heard saner voices forcefully raised by the influential religious and political persons of the Muslim community against the Mumbai episode and the rumour mongering.They have prayed for peace and communal harmony . Keeping this spirit in view, there is an urgent need to address the illegal migration problem which plagues the North- East. Remember, there are bona-fide Muslim residents of Assam , having lived there since ages. It would be preposterous to brush them as illegal migrants from a foreign country. Let the situation be not communalised . It is time to compress the word ” Enough ” to a limit , as Skidelskys have tried to do so in the different context . Or else, its ad-nauseam chanting would be an irritating farce .
(The author is former Principal District & Sessions Judge)

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