Immigration in Nagaland, the IBI


Zhokusheyi Rhakho

Immigration is a global phenomena & different region of the world faces different problems. For example in USA, there is immigration from Mexico, the Romas (gypsies) of Romania migrating to western Europe like France, Belgium, etc, then comes the migration to middle east from Indian sub-continent. The push and pull factor varies too from region to region like poverty, persecution at home to the better opportunities that is available outside. Internal migration within the nation is also common. But immigration is not too big a problem in USA where density of population is only 30 person per or in France where there is rather depopulation in the rural areas.

In India, internal migration is large with 30.9% of India workforce classified as migrant (NSS assessment 2007-08). But this migration is not a serious problem as the population is already saturated in these states and posed no threat to local culture or economy though the MNS with its marathis manoos propaganda is chauvinistic politics rather than real threat perceived in Maharashtra. For the same reason and also due to language barrier illegal Bangladesh immigrants’ threat to Indian mainland is insignificant.

Whenever Illegal Bangladesh Immigrants (IBI) issue is stressed, the larger context of understanding NE in general becomes unavoidable as the issue is interlinked.  The threat has taken an alarming proportion in the North East (NE) India like in Tripura where indigenous Tripuris are minority in their own land and in Assam around 40 lakh IBI are deeply entrenched, acting as vote bank commanding undue influence in 40 of the 126 constituencies & no party can come to power without appeasing them. This continuous influx of IBI to NE through the porous border has become a serious threat coupled with apathy of central govt. and the helplessness & insensitivity of the state govt. Though NE in itself is under developed and many of its educated youth migrates to mainland cities for jobs what could be the push and the pull factor behind this trend? The reasons can be;

1.    Over population in Bangladesh: Bangladesh has one of the world highest densities of population with 1142 person per (2011 census). The Malthusian nightmare of land unable to sustain the population is happening bane with corruption and ill- governance. 

2.    Huge availability of fertile land in NE mainly Assam: The land hungry immigrants in need of more lebensraum sneak into sparsely populated but fertile NE mainly Assam & settled there in large number in connivance with corrupt govt. Officials.

3.    The need for cheap labour.

The immigrants in Nagaland especially from Bihar and UP has been there for a long time but threat perceived was low until the huge unbridled influxes of IBI who seem to indulge in all the wanton crimes of thief, murder, bottle legging, drug peddling, raped & even hobnobbing with underground elements. IBI has come into sharp focus once again since the gang rape of a married woman in Dimapur by miyas & the communal spurt in the district of Dubri and kokrajar in Assam followed by unprecedented exodus of North Easterners from mainland India due to threat and reprisal. This is indeed a sign that a time is fast approaching when we will be targeted outside but have no respite at home either.

Immigration is a major concern especially in Dimapur where ILP is not in promulgation and hence the free flow of illegal immigrants, i.e, the miyas. ‘They have intermarried with the locals… known as semiyas (hybrid of semas & Miyas) and now their number varies around 80,000 to 100,000 foreboding a major threat to Nagaland demography and a possible source of future tension..’ (Subir Bhaumik, Troubled Periphery, page- 134). Many might have felt the danger pulse but are too helpless, too selfish or just too lazy to do anything. The insensitivity of the govt. to the appalling abnegation have detected & deported as pittance as 28 illegal immigrants so far. Today occasional border tension especially in Assam-Nagaland border has been caused due to illegal immigrants.

Kohima has some 4000 thousand non-local shops and the immigrant makes half the population of Dimapur controlling the economic nerve of the state. This amounts to severe economic drain as they brings back no remuneration as no single paisa in invested in the state from the profit it gains. But until this trend is reversed or optimized to a reasonable proportion local economy will be poor as ever. On the other hand there is poverty and unemployment of the locals who are more indulgent and indolent and do need thorough crash course in the art of good business nature.

One decade hereon if this trend goes unchecked, the red line will also be multiplied and so is the helplessness because immigration is not going to stop or stabilize but would only get worse because the push factor is too strong. Even now if we find it difficult, how much more it will be in the near future or when they managed to grab some power as is most likely. This kind of problem is at best tackled at its nascent stage because when it becomes acute, it is already late. Also it would be foolishness if we failed to learn a lesson or two from Assam and Tripura. Nagas claims to be fighting for sovereignty, nationhood, etc, but here even our very existence is at threat. No wonder all those political berating will soon be relegated into the background as the immigration issue takes the forefront. There is no escape route, hence, the sooner the better strong measure is taken to safeguard our land and culture from occupation and contamination because we have nowhere else to go except this small god given land. 

This is also exactly the reason why the NNC pioneers were apprehensive of joining Indian union & how right they proved today as immigrants continuously swarm our land and our people drawn in the deep cesspool of destructive Indian politic though its another matter why the present pervert naga groups has become opportunist, visionless and money tamed & have nothing else to do except divide and tax and tax.

The writing on the wall has begun and the next generation conflict will most probably be immigrants oriented or even the next insurgency will be for the same reason. Until and unless strong regulated measure is undertaken similar fates akin to Assam & Tripura awaits us. Are we so dumb and blind to be deceived that we are so helpless against those flooding illegal immigrant who comes under the stolen garb of Assamese identity especially south Assam districts? Lets not forget that Ahoms are Mongolians in feature and not miyash.

Whether it is the apprehension of repercussion outside the state or just the insensitiveness of the state govt. making an excuse for its negligence, there is no substitute to this problem rather than outright strong legal measure roping in civil societies on a war footing.

Taking the example of Tripura & Manipur where 10% of the state total areas control the other 90% from the Agartala and Imphal valley respectively, similar things can happen in Nagaland too with Dimapur which form only 8% area of the state dominating the hill areas. Nagas forms only half the population in Dimapur out of 379,769 (2011 census) & the state have seen an abnormal urban decadal growth of 67.38%. Influx of illegal immigrants is the reason behind. The real problem starts when they becomes a lucrative votebank and thats where the unending woes begins (eg; Assam).

In the light of the above argument it is pertinent to illustrate the laws available at our disposal or the viability to strengthen or legislate new laws in coherence with the constitution and democratic principles.

1.    Article 19(1)d guarantees all citizens to move freely throughout the territory of India.

2.    Article 19(1)e allows all citizens to reside and settle anywhere in the country.

3.    Article 19(5), however enables the states to imposed reasonable restriction on the above rights of law in the interest of general public or the protection of any scheduled tribes. The right of outsiders to reside or settled in tribal areas is restricted. 

4.    Inner Line Permit which applies to all citizen of India except the tribes mention in the preamble of the Act prohibited from visiting the place or acquiring any land.

5.    Article 371A(1), which give special provisions exclusively for Nagaland in religious or social practice, customary laws and procedure, administration of civil & criminal justice according to customary laws and the ownership of land and its resources.

Of course ILP or any other laws for that matter can only be implemented with certain exemption like govt. officials, security personnel, humanitarian worker, laborers, etc. but even with the availability of such wide laws at our disposal, if we still failed to protect our rights and interest, we are no wonder fools & racially an incompetent stock as a people because these laws are made for our interest and not for anybody else. Transfer of land to non-nagas, flow of immigrants, business transaction, etc. is protected & regulated under these laws. Vitiating this aim, its imperative to;

1.    Invoke ILP in Dimapur district partially by categorizing the areas according to the feasibility of things so as not to hamper the economic growth of the city.

2.    Strengthen the provision of ILP while bearing in mind the interest of permanent non-nagas residence who has settled in Dimapur since the British period.

3.    Well regulated measure to optimize non-naga traders.

4.    Adopt an all clear Mokokchung model in all districts apart from kohima & Dimapur as a first step.

But as far as immigration issue is concern in NE, central govt. has its own hidden agenda too, i.e, to implant immigrants from mainland to this thinly populated areas to assimilate the volatile tribals as part of greater integration and security of the nation, or in short to incarcerate their independent & secessionist tendencies. Since it is democracy it can’t just directly displace the tribes and implant mainlander, but to remain aloof or indifferent is enough to let the agenda succeed and that exactly is happening here. Thus, it always extends cold shoulder or lukewarm attitude as far as dealing with immigrants issue is concerned in NE. Then comes the evil design of Pakistan to Islamized NE. M.A Jinnah once said that in ten years time Assam would come to Pakistan on a platter & this legacy was pursued by shield Mujib even after liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 for greater Bangladesh by flooding the region with Bangladeshis or to balkanize the region on the basis of religion. (Insurgency in NE India – role of Bangladesh by Dipankar sengupta & Sudhir Singh, Author Press, 2004)

Thus, the larger spectrum of this internal dimension is one of several forces at play with varied interest. Also the dynamic of local force to counter or circumvent the trend would auspice with the vicissitude & intensity of the trend itself but abnegation per se spells dooms. In the heydays of indo-naga conflict the ILP along with PAP, RAP was strictly interpreted and no citizen or foreigner was allowed to visit the state saying the laws don’t permit. Maybe today its payback time. What different thus it make to us whether it is illegal immigrants or just the immigrants when we are still at the receiving end.

Democracy is the rule of majority and the security of the minority. It is democracy of the mainlander to roam or settled anywhere in India and it is our democracy to protect our culture, economy and civilization from destruction, exploitation or assimilation or being overwhelmed by immigrants. 

(Concision of paper presented at Modern College as part of student sensitization)