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Published in the 1-15 Feb 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition


Assam Muslims and IMDT

I read with interest Mr. M.H. Rahman’s article on Illegal Immigrants in Assam in your issue of 16-31 January, 2005. He dilates on pre-1971 movement between Assam and East Pakistan which was largely Hindu. He also estimates that the vast majority of persons who entered India during the Bangladesh Liberation War and settled down in this country were Hindus. So he concludes that an overwhelming number of foreign immigrants in Assam are non-Muslims.

The issues today are not the persons who entered Assam in or before 1971 but those who entered India thereafter. The IM(DT) Act, 1983 applies to this category only. The statistics relating to post-1971 Census are relevant.
The anti-Muslim forces want IM(DT) Act, 1983 to be repealed. The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) has successfully prevented its repeal, though the matter is still before the Supreme Court. Our stand is that no one can be declared to be a foreigner by the fiat of the executive or at the instance of a private individual or party or organization but only by a Tribunal, in accordance with law, after a prima facie is made out after due investigation by the police.

But the population statistics go against the Muslims. Between 1971 and 2001 the rate of increase of Muslim population is much higher than of Assam as a whole or of any other religious group as indicted below:

1971  1981 1991 2001 1971-2001

All Communities

14.63 22.41 26.66 81.82
Hindus 10.61 15.05 17.30 61.05
Muslims 3.60 6.37 8.25 129.17


0.38 0.74 0.99 28.57

How does Mr. Rahman explain it?

No doubt the Muslim rate of growth is higher in most States, primarily because of their educational, economic and social backwardness. But it is nowhere double the Hindu rate over a 30 year period. There is, therefore, a prima facie case for a hypothesis that at least half the increase is due to immigration. This means that roughly ˝ the increase (8.25 – 3.60/2) i.e. 2.25 million) are illegal immigrants or their descendents. 

Syed Shahabuddin

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