“Wait for ten years, I will present Assam to you on a silver platter ” is how Jinnah invoked the dream of converting Assam into a Muslim dominated state and annex itAbhijit Sarma
As the clock ticked on August 14, 1947, Muslim-majority provinces were carved out of India on the lines of religion to make way for a nation exclusively for adherents. Thus, came the Islamic Republic of Pakistan into existence. But what were those series of events? What was the modus-operandi of dividing this country that was undivided India. It was having a majority Muslim population in the said provinces.
Let us try to analyse the turn of events and their far-reaching implications on our life. The inception of a political party solely based on religion can be traced back to the call of All India Muslim league’s meeting in 1906 at Dhaka, where the Muslim league’s political platform was
formally launched. It was for the first time that the tactical importance of the province of Assam was realised after rigorous brainstorming between more than 3000 Muslim league delegates who had gathered from across the country.
One of the founding members of Muslim league, Nawab Salim Ullah Khan was quoted on record asking Muslims to migrate to the valley of Assam and settle. The valley of Assam was particularly important from the perspective of a future Muslim country as in 1901 the first petroleum refinery was started in Digboi, a small town in the upper Assam division of the province. The organised Migration of Muslims on the behest of All India Muslim league was later validated by CS Mullan in his census report of 1931.
The events that followed need a special attention.
Following turbulent political development in Assam and rest of India, Syed Muhammad Saadulla of All India Muslim League (AIML) was appointed as leader of Assam province briefly from 1939 to 1941 at the behest of the British Raj. During his tenure, he utilised executive power bestowed upon him to implement the larger goals of AIML of increasing numerical strength of Muslims in the region, in one such instance Saadulla allocated around one lakh Bighas of land to Muslim immigrants ignoring strong opposition from then congressman Bishnu Ram Medhi. The Severity of this AIML agenda can be clearly understood by comparing Census reports of 1931 & 1941. While the population of Hindus during 1931 census stood at around 67% in Assam Province it saw a sharp decline to 47% by 1941, a 20 percent decline in Hindu population was recorded. All India Muslim League’s plan of populating Assam with Muslims to validate their claim of including Assam in Pakistan can be arrived upon from the series of statements made by Jinnah during the 1945-46 elections. During that time, he openly exhorted about the provinces that will be included in Pakistan “Pakistan will be made up by Muslim majority provinces of NWFP, Baluchistan, Sind and Punjab Provinces in the western side, while Bengal and Assam provinces will form the Eastern side of Pakistan”.
The majority Muslim population of Assam then presented a strong case for its inclusion in what was to be the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The success of AIML propaganda can be established from the fact that, Gandhi and almost the entire Congress leadership was convinced in giving away Assam to Pakistan.
Late Gopinath Bordoloi can be credited of Saving Assam from falling into the clutches of a Muslim state as after many attempts he was finally able to convince the Congress leadership and Gandhi. Even after the Partition, Jinnah held high hopes for annexing Assam into East Pakistan. Jinnah had been quoted by Many renowned historians including Mainul Haque Chowdhury saying “Wait for ten years, I will present Assam to you in a silver platter”. It is believed that Mainul Haque stayed back in Assam on Jinnah’s Instructions and kept assisting the Muslim cause.
As late as 1964 the Assam government headed by Chaliha had to withdraw a bill named prevention of infiltration from Pakistan or the PIP act at the behest of Muslim Legislators threaten to topple his government. Thus, the dream of annexing Assam lived on throughout the years even after independence of Bangladesh as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first President of Bangladesh stated that “Without the inclusion of Assam the Bangladeshi economy could not be sustained”. Hence Muslim league’s propaganda lived on beyond east Pakistan and Jinnah.
Hostage population theory
The Muslim League widely publicised this theory to gather the support of Muslims in provinces where their numbers were in a minority. They advocated that the residing Hindu population in Pakistan would be treated as a hostage or a bargaining chip with the Hindu majority India. The Muslim league had planned to use this Hindu population as retribution if any repercussions arose from India in the future. It can be a point that Muslim League had already decided the extra-judicial use of the Hindu and Sikh population justified under Islamic laws. The utilisation of this theory had been seen throughout the years whenever India-Pakistan found themselves on opposite ends . The Hindu population in Pakistan was made to suffer horrible pain on the account of putting psychological pressure on India. It was seen during the Invasion of Kashmir by Pakistan and it was seen during the Indo-Pak war for the liberation of Bangladesh when more than 2,00,000 Hindus were raped and butchered by Islamists.
The citizenship amendment Bill of 2016 will be helpful in countering this tool of Islamists and will liberate these poor souls who have escaped to India in search of a secure and a decent life.
The principle of positive Discrimination is a very widely accepted mechanism advocated throughout the world. The principle preaches treating one person more favourably than another owing to the unfair treatment faced by the individuals of a particular religion, caste, creed, language or sex. The principle of positive discrimination also provides a proper confutation to many intellectuals who vouch against the Citizenship Amendment bill stating that it violates right to equality. An in-depth analysis of the Indian constitution also reveals that it endorses this principle by providing reservations to the marginalised under the aegis of the minority, scheduled caste & tribes etc. The Case study of the reservation system thus reveals that Indian constitution clearly accepts favouring individuals who belong to groups that had been previously treated unfairly. The Citizenship Amendment Bill is therefore justified as it provides citizenship to the minority communities like Hindu, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians hailing from three neighbouring Islamic countries namely Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, where these marginalised communities are subjected to various inhuman discriminations.
The detailed analysis through the overview, the hostage population theory and the principle of positive discrimination clearly signify the need for granting citizenship to the refugees from the selected six communities from three countries who already are residing in the country. A point to point analysis of the bill refutes the claim that Hindu Bangladeshis will be settled in the state of Assam. Whereas a desperate need to safeguard the numeric strength of Hindus in the state arises.
The 1991 census showed that the Muslim population of the country had increased by four million or 65.4 7 percent over that of 1971. Whereas in Assam alone the increase had been by 77.42 percent. Muslims now form a majority in the district of Dhubri (70.42%), Goalpara (50.18%), Barpeta (56.07%) and Hailakandi (55.18%)".
In addition to these four Muslim majority districts other five districts namely Bongaigaon (32.74 %), Morigaon (45.31 %), Nagaon (47.19 %), Karimganj (49.17 %) and Cachar (34.49 %) are having Muslim population varying between 32.74 percent to 49.17 percent.
The 2011 census further validated that nine districts of Assam had already become Muslim majority
districts, while few more districts are on the verge of becoming so. As the numerical strength of Muslims grows in these districts, the Assamese fraternity must answer to the call of the hour and do whatever is necessary to maintain the Hindu numeral strength or fall prey to the Muslim league’s century old propaganda of Annexing Assam.
The NRC is primordial in securing the future of Assam hence cooperation of all socio-cultural organisations towards the same is of utmost importance. Hence it can be concluded with the observation that Citizenship Amended Bill must be implemented in spirit not only on humane grounds but also as a possible tool of keep the demographics of Assam Intact hence preserving the popular culture from being overrun by a foreign Culture.
( The writer is an ICRR research scholar at Dibrugadh )