Homeland Security

Demographic invasion of India from the North East
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Issue Vol 22.2 Apr-Jun2007 | Date : 23 Aug , 2023

First Published in print issue of Indian Defence Review (Vol 22.2) Apr-Jun, 2007

Six decades of ‘Indian effort’, still Seven Sisters have not been fully integrated with the main landmass. Thousands of crores of money has been pumped into the North East. In fact our  Central Govt is indirectly financing the underground governing bodies who de  facto continue to rule the roost. The problem has been further accentuated by uncontrolled illegal migration from Bangladesh, the situation in the ‘Gateway to the North East’, the ‘Siliguri Corridor’, where insurgency is brewing and is likely to become a major security concern for our country.

Kamtapuri movement is making steady progress in carving out yet another autonomous state by amalgamating six districts of North Bengal viz, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar Maldah, South Dinajpur and North Dinajpur.

As per 2001 census the population of India is approximately 1.02 billion, almost three-fold increase in population of 1947. The three-fold increase is attributable to, inadequacy and inconsistency of India’s family planning programme, (bureaucracy had to tow the line of their political masters) illiteracy, religious disbeliefs, backwardness of the people, underprivileged condition of women in India, poor health facility and so on. But no one bothered to mention that one of the reasons is presence of over 26 million Bangladeshi illegal migrants in India.

At the time of partition, in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) the Hindu population was 25.6 percent. It got reduced to 14 percent in 1991 and today it has come down to abysmal 7 percent.

Bangladesh has the highest density of population in the world, the density of its population is 982 persons per/sq km. North Eastern States on the other hand are sparsely populated with average density of little over 215 persons per sq km. Principle of void theory in law of nature has taken its course. In addition not so good economic conditions in Bangladesh have forced people to embrace more lucrative options. This is not only true for this region, Mexican influx into south western United States of America is most recent phenomenon. Large-scale demographic movement continues to take place in the NE, resulting in demographic imbalance in states. In the state of Tripura imbalance has resulted in “demographic inversion”. After the partition, till 1971, there was a massive population influx caused by political, communal and economic reasons, which created serious ethnicity problems in these states. At the time of partition, in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) the Hindu population was 25.6 percent. It got reduced to 14 percent in 1991 and today it has come down to abysmal 7 percent.

Earlier the minority community were literally forced out of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), primarily due to religious reasons and now mass exodus is taking place due to ‘economic reasons’ by both the communities. Flow of illegal migrants though in small measure continues post 1971 and the progressive cumulative effect is acquiring alarming dimensions. However, when secular democracy was replaced by autocracy following the murder of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman in 1975, hard-core Islamic Fundamentalists were encouraged to infiltrate into North-eastern states to carry out anti national activities and destabilise the democratic system. The bulk of these migrants initially egressed into states bordering Bangladesh. In addition a large number have infiltrated into almost all parts of India including Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow and other cities for greener pastures creating economic and law and order problems. Vote bank politics as usual supersedes national interests. Assam, Tripura, North Bengal and Meghalaya face maximum threat to the security in this region due to illegal migration. Gradually, this malaise is spreading to other states like Sikkim, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland. Even landlocked Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is also sitting on the brink of demographic implosion.

Documents and surveys show enough evidence that migrants from Bangladesh are a deciding factor in 23 to 25 Parliamentary and 117 to 127 Assembly Seats in India.

Besides the illegal migrants, there are settlers from other states who have come to these states in search of job opportunities have further compounded the ethnic strife. This influx of infiltrators and internal migration have outnumbered the sons of the soil and causing socio-economic tensions and frustrations over employment opportunities. They are also considered threat to the language and culture of NE. This coupled with the inconsistent approach of the Union Government to bring the people of these States into the mainstream continues to catalyse the growth of militancy in the region.

Mushrooming madarsas, indoctrination at Pakistan sponsored Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) camps (156 known camps) in Bangladesh and pumping in of counterfeit currency in the region are all indicators that insurgency is once again raising its ugly head and is likely to acquire serious dimensions if not checked, controlled and contained speedily, timely and adequately. ISI is taking full advantage of uncertain situation in Nepal, law of jungle states of northern UP bordering Nepal, Bihar and the North East as also as part of its grand design to shift the focus and centre of gravity to much more vulnerable and sensitive areas as also to relieve the pressure in the western region. This is part of a deliberate nefarious design of the ISI to destabilise most sensitive North East region, seriously threatening secular democratic system in India and threatening “Silliguri corridor”.

Documents and surveys show enough evidence that migrants from Bangladesh are a deciding factor in 23 to 25 Parliamentary and 117 to 127 Assembly Seats in India.

India shares 4096 km of border with Bangladesh and it costs Rs three crores per km to effectively police this border, i.e., on account of manning of border by policing force, construction and maintenance of border roads, border fencing, riverine patrols, watchtowers and so on. Over three scores of battalions of Border Security Force are presently policing the border which is woefully inadequate. For effective domination and policing requirement is well over 100 battalions. The government has been able to fence only 987 km of this border till now. Rs. 2300 crores are being spent every year in guarding this border. (WB-2217 Kms, Assam-262 Kms, Meghalaya-443 Kms, Tripura-856 Kms, Mizoram-318 Kms).

Assam: The Victim of Outsiders Effect

Assam is the mother state of the North-East, any instability in this state is bound to have cascading effect in other six sisters. It has 74 percent of total population of the North East. In 1826, Assam was annexed by the British by virtue of the ‘Treaty of Yandabu’ and made part of Bengal presidency. The British in pursuit of their ‘Divide and Rule’ policy, partitioned Bengal in 1905. Assam lost its separate identity and became part of a Muslim dominated East Bengal. In 1911 partition of Bengal was annulled and Assam again became a separate province.

Emerging trends in the region indicate that Muslim Fundamentalist Organisations (MFOs) are joining hands with the militants and disgruntled elements of the society to raise anti-India tirade or separatist movements.

The British imported tea garden labourers from other provinces, as the Assamese were not willing to work as labourers. They also imported peasants from East Bengal, mostly Muslims, to work on virgin land in Lower Assam to meet the growing demand for food in the wake of the large movement of population. The growth of a large Muslim population in the province helped the Muslim League to gain ascendance in Assam. In the 1940s, the demand for Pakistan as a separate homeland for Muslims gained momentum.

The Muslim League wanted Assam to be included in East Pakistan. In 1946, Assam and West Bengal were grouped together. Although, Congress High Command agreed to the grouping, Shri Gopinath Bordoloi, the leader of Assam Congress was quick to see the danger in grouping Assam with Bengal. He rebelled and demanded rejection of grouping plan, thus Muslim League’s plan to get Assam included in East Pakistan was foiled. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in his book “Myth of Independence” wrote, “It would be wrong to think that Kashmir is the only dispute that divides India and Pakistan. One at least is nearly as important as the Kashmir dispute, that of Assam and some districts of India adjacent to East Pakistan. To these, Pakistan has very good claims. East Pakistan must include Assam to be financially and economically strong”. Wise words, but unfortunately during his lifetime he had to helplessly watch the formation of Bangladesh.

The unabated influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh/East Pakistan has been continuing after Independence. In 1970, the population of East Pakistan was 7.5 crores but in 1974 it had come down to 7.14 crores. On the basis of 3.1 percent annual growth, the population should have gone up to 7.7 crores. The shortfall of 60 lakhs people can be explained only by large-scale migration. The statistical data on demography speaks for itself.

Relevance of above data gives further credence to the decadal percentage growth of population of All India, Assam and Bangladesh as under: –

You can see from above that the decadal percentage of growth of population in Assam is more than the growth in Bangladesh, except for the period 1971-1981 due to anti-foreigners agitation in the state when these people fled the state and 1991 -2001 obviously  due to illegal migration.

The community-wise growth rate given as under will give you a better picture of communal imbalance being created in Assam by the immigration of Bangladeshis :-

As per the 1991 census, four districts of Assam namely Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta and Hailakandi became Muslim majority districts. Two more districts; Nagaon and Karimganj have attained Muslim majority in 1998. These statistics indicate that illegal migrants coming into India after 1971 have been exclusively Muslims. These changes have significantly altered the electoral profile of Assam which is unethically exploited by political parties for their partisan gains compromising the stability of the region.

Demographic Inversion in Tripura

In other states there has been demographic invasion leading to demographic imbalance, whereas Tripura had to witness demographic inversion. The tribal population of Tripura, which was 93 percent in 1947 has been reduced to a minority of 23 percent of its 31.9 million population today. The changing demographic balance, economic pressures and awareness resulted in tribal resentment, which grew with the unabated influx of migrants. It is difficult to assess the quantum of immigration since no such data is available; however, a comparison between population growth and the decadal growth birth rate indicates that maximum influx has taken place into Tripura after 1950 which will be evident from the data given as under:

From 1951, the others’ population is growing in leaps and bounds defying the natural growth rate. At present a Mobile Task Force (MTF) is responsible to identify and deport the illegal immigrants from Tripura. From 1974 till mid 2006 the Task Force has deported approximately 1,78,000 illegal immigrants to Bangladesh. It is just a drop in the ocean.Now let us have a look at distribution of population by religion in the state of Tripura:-

This table highlights following issues: –

  • Hindus. The population has been rising by approx 30% every decade.
  • Muslims. The population has been rising steadily at a rate of 40%.
  • Buddhists. Their population has increased by  an average rate of 90% each decade.  This group mainly comprises Chakmas and Mogs who have come to Tripura from Chittagong Hill Tracts in search of greener pastures and economic opportunities.
  • Christians.  Their growth can be attributed to the adoption of Christianity by the Tribals.

Demographic Shift in North Bengal

The illegal Bangladeshi Muslim migrants have settled almost homogeneously all along the porous Indo – Bangladesh border. The similarity in language and customs has perfectly aided the silent gradual mingling of these foreigners. However, some areas have been more favoured than others. A few of these areas lie in the Siliguri corridor and including districts of Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur.

The massive influx of 22 million illegal migrants from Bangladesh is a national problem with economic, administrative and political implications.

Demography of Dhubri district of Assam, which is beset with ULFA, BODO and Islamic Militancy, comprised 70 percent Muslims, as per 2001 figures. There has been a continuous unchecked import of illegal Muslim Bangladeshi migrants into the district after 1991 and the present population of Muslims is over 80 percent.

Swing in Population Pattern

A comparison of figures of population by religion in the Jalpaiguri district  gives a fair idea in proliferation of Muslim population:-

It can be seen that the Hindu population within the span of a decade has gone down from 87.50% in 1981 to 84.81% in 1991 to 82.30 registering a decrease of approx 2% whereas the Muslim population has increased from 8.75% to 10.04% to 12.39 registering a steady increase.

As per home ministry and IB estimates approx 54 lakhs Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants are settled in West Bengal. Apart from Bangladeshi Muslims a large number of Bangladeshi Hindus have also crossed over into West Bengal.

During 1971 War, approximately one crore Bangladeshi nationals entered India as refugees. After liberation of Bangladesh, they are believed to have returned to Bangladesh. However, approx 30 lakh, filtered back into India finding that someone else has occupied their land, houses and belongings.

Urgent Need to Contain the Demographic Invasion

This silent invasion of the NE states has been taking place for several decades and the Govt has failed to stem this demographic onslaught. What started as a purely natural and economic movement has now acquired communal, political and international dimensions with serious security overtones. Although Bangladeshi migrants have come into several states of India; their number is alarming in the states of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. Also they are slowly but surely creeping into Mizoram as cheap labour force. It is high time Mizoram learns a lesson from other sister states.  If not effectively checked, they may swamp the sons of the soil and this may also help the fissiparous forces in facilitating severing the NE landmass from the rest of India. This will lead to disastrous strategic and economic results. Politicians for their own vested interests are under playing this issue of grave importance to national security. Lt Gen (Retd) SK Sinha, PVSM , erstwhile Governor of Assam in his report to the Central Govt suggested some steps, which can be taken in this regard, these are: –

  • Awareness should be promoted about illegal migration. It is not only a threat to the identity of the people of NE but a grave threat to our national security.
  • Border fencing should be completed on a war footing. Observation towers and lights should be provided on the same scale as in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir i.e., Northern and Western Border.
  • BSF battalions deployed should be given responsibility to hold frontages which they can effectively dominate. The time tested modus operandi being followed in Punjab, BSF battalions should hold a frontage of 25 to 30 kilometres in plains and on eastern borders of Bangladesh it may be 10 to 15 kilometres only. Thus need for additional BSF battalions.
  • Diversion of BSF battalions from the border for other task, when the battle against infiltrators is on, must be avoided.
  • All country boats, plying in the river near the border should be registered and their registration numbers marked on them.
  • Provisioning of multi-purpose photo identity cards should be speeded up to all our nationals. Districts bordering Bangladesh should be accorded higher priority.
  • The National Register of Citizens should be updated and computerised. A separate register of Stateless citizens should also be maintained.
  • As far as possible, we should assist in the process of economic development in Bangladesh. Have joint ventures to increase the stakes of each country.
  • Hindu illegal migrants who have infiltrated after 24 March, 1971 should not be given refugee status. They should be treated as illegal migrants.
  • Survey teams working under Magistrates, be nominated to identify the illegal migrants within a fixed time- frame.
  • IMDT Act. The Illegal Migrants Detection Tribunal (IMDT) Act of 1983 was struck down by the Supreme  Court in July 2005 following a public interest litigation by Sarmanand Sonawal, AGP MP from  Dibrugarh. The  IMDT Act of 1983 was applicable only to Assam. A foreigner in Assam is to be dealt with under this act, while in rest of the country they are dealt with under Foreigners Act – 1946. Since 1983, till 2006 the Assam Govt had been able to identify approximately 12000 illegal migrants and of these it has been able to deport only 1700. No country in the world had two sets of laws like this. Obviously, this  discrimination against the state of Assam was to appease the minorities.  The govt sought to bypass the Supreme Court judgement by bringing amendments to Foreigners Act (1946) by Foreigners (Tribunals) Amendment Order. For political reasons this too was struck down by the apex court in 2006. The drawbacks of the IMDT act are:-
  • Onus of proof to establish citizenship lies with the state of Assam under IMDT Act, while it lies with the individual in case of other states.
  • Police does not have powers to detain, arrest or search a suspect thus making it convenient for the suspected migrant to melt away. They can abscond during the screening period or 30 days period allowed for appeal before the Appellant Tribunal.
  • Unlike other criminal cases, witnesses appearing before the tribunal are not paid any travel expenses. So witnesses refuse to oblige the Govt.
  • The complainants are required to pay a monetary fee to complain against a suspected illegal migrant.
  • Roughly Rs 750 crores have been spent on implementations with hardly any worthwhile results.

Security:  Implications and Concerns

The massive influx of 22 million illegal migrants from Bangladesh is a national problem with economic, administrative and political implications.

Three trends emerge from this movement of migrants:-

  • The fear of the indigenous people of being swamped by immigrants threatening their ethnic identity.
  • The desire of foreign elements to somehow acquire Assam.
  • Efforts of some politicians to take advantage of the situation for their own purpose/shortsighted gains.

The illegal migration of Bangladeshi Muslims has acquired a national security dimension, this is being compounded by growing international Islamic fundamentalism and the desperate efforts of forces hostile to India to destabilise the country. It is not far-fetched to visualise a Kashmir like situation in another 5 years, wherein Bangladesh fully supported by Pakistan may fight a proxy war and cause national security problems. There is also a threat to the land link of the North East with the rest of India i.e. the Gateway to the North East i.e., “Siliguri Corridor”.  Assam’s turnover of 4900 crores a year in tea, 7800 crores in oil and other economic assets of the North East can be endangered. Any breach of this link will have disastrous consequences for the entire nation.

Emerging trends in the region indicate that Muslim Fundamentalist Organisations (MFOs) are joining hands with the militants and disgruntled elements of the society to raise anti-India tirade or separatist movements.

First Published in print issue of Indian Defence Review (Vol 22.2) Apr-Jun, 2007

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Brig Amrit Kapur

former  Commandant of Counter- Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School, Vairengte, Mizoram.

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14 thoughts on “Demographic invasion of India from the North East

  1. It is something to be taken into consideration and that North Bengal is too in the eyes of the Illegal Islamic Bangladeshi who are all working to spread the fundamental principles of Islam and become and invader in these regions making it to be theirs just like of how the history of Kashmir is.

    Their history is known to the world as an invader who behaves like innocent and spreads like rabbits.

    South of West Bengal I have seen and is still growing fast but once these people in the north get what they need from the basic they will attack on each and everything and make Gorkha their land as it is the land of the jihadist proclaimed by their followers.

    No matter how good they are they always and will always back beat upon their people one day.

    I really look forward for the gorkha people of North bengal to implement Strict Anti-Islamic Laws in the region of Darjeeling, Siliguri Corridor, Entire North Bengal. So that the North East India region is safe and not bought in situations like how Kashmir is facing now.

    Anti-Islamic Laws like no Waqf Board Estates in the region, no muslim leaders in politics and at all government positions.

  2. Demographic invasion will ruin India in the not to distant future. Our so called secular political parties don’t mind destroying the country so long as they can be seated in the driving seat. In another decade or so, this nation and its states will have Bangaladeshi Chief Ministers, Prime Ministers and Presidents, and the Hindus who by then will be a minority in their own country will look helpless. God Help we the ordinary mortals of this great country.

  3. How to destroy your own nation.
    1.Let illegal enter in your nation and never send back.

  4. After decades of propaganda and disinformation blaming illegal Bangladesh immigrants of swamping Assam and other North East provinces has led to frequent acts of violence against the Muslim community. In reality East Pakistan/Bangladeshi immigrants entered India en-masse on only two occasions – in 1947 and 1971. These immigrants were in the vast majority Hindu and were accepted wholeheartedly by India and given citizenship rights. After 1971 there were a trickle of Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh who were only grudgingly given certain very limited rights but have nevertheless been the target of rabble rousing politicians who demand their deportation even though many are now third or fourth generation immigrants. In other words, whether under Congress or BJP the Indian government has practiced a form of communal discrimination. To enflame passionsand emotions politicians cynically conflate the mass immigrations of 1947, 1971 and after making it appear that Muslim immigrants numbers in the tens of millions breeding fear in the local populations in Assam and the Seven Sisters. Essentially in the name of secularism India promotes communalism and this issue of illegal immigration is often used as a foreign policy tool to put Bangladesh on the defensive. This necessarily causes anger in Bangladesh with the public feeling that India is targeting its own Muslim population while hypocritically blaming political parties in the neighboring country for victimizing Hindus. In fact this is another propaganda ruse used by India as more often than not the party doing the most oppressing of minorities in Bangladesh is the Awami League which is an Indian favorite so the blame falls on the opposition BNP and JeI creating a false fear of Islamist fanaticism and thus creating a vicious circle of hatred towards Muslims in India and demands for their expulsion. Read more on these issues in The India Doctrine –


    • What has been written by you is part of propaganda. Bangladeshis illegally enter India and taking advantage of the corrupt system, manage to obtain ration cards and other documents to establish ‘Indian’ identity and then spread into the hinterland. Bangladeshi pockets thrive in big metros and this fact is known to the local intelligence and central agencies. However, a sizable number make for an attractive vote bank for certain politicians. This leads to the drastic alteration of demography in an area.

  5. What the Brig has brought out is an absolute fact. These aspects have been projected to the Government time and again by the Army and also by various Intelligence agencies. But all reports have fallen on deaf ears as anything to do with Muslims becomes and issue of the minority community (sic). If Bangladeshis are rounded up in Assam the rest of the Muslim’s take up their case in the country. Vote bank politics defeats any thing that’s relevant for the nation. The Bangladeshi becomes a vote bank for the Congress. The Congress will cut the throat of its own mother for the sake of votes. Demographic changes have taken place in certain southern districts of Assam. The Government never brings these figure to light. The People of the seven sisters are at a loss. But I blame them too. They are politically, ethnically, and demographically a divided lot. They must stand on a common platform together and fight for their rights. Stop fighting individually for independence from India. That’s impossible for them to achieve. Every tribe cant become an independent nation. But If they are politically on the same platform they have a lot to gain.

  6. I feel, that for the Indian Army to be relevant in Mizoram, Manipur and the other states that comprise the Seven Sisters, the govt. must be local, primarily. The people must decide what will make them prosperous. The environment will get degraded otherwise. The Seven Sisters are what is seen to be the Green Lungs of India, along with Kashmir. I don’t advocate the army on the border of the states, either.

  7. Dear Author,
    Thanks for putting the facts and figures in your finding, All are at pain except the great politicians, when the fine day will come for them to wake up, or they are only concerned about their vote bank… let the country go to HELL… you said 23 out of 25 MP and 117 out of 127 assembly seats are decided by the migrants… then where are we .. at their discretion..

  8. The greed of a few politicinas have destroyed the country. They allowed to kill indiginous people only for their political benefits. One day thesr bangladeshi will kill everyone of them including these politicinas engaging in bangladeshi pampering.

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