ARCHIVAL RECORDS: SITUATION IN ASSAM DURING BANGLADESH LIBERATION WAR IN 1971-PART 6
A NOTE ON THE SITUATION IN ASSAM-BENGAL BORDER IN CONTEXT OF BANGLA DESH MOVEMENT AND CONSEQUENT INFLUX OF EVACUEES ( Note appended with statement made by then Assam Chief Minister Mahendra Mohan Choudhury in the Assam Assembly on October 25, 1971)
(continued from the preveious part published on February 21, and March, 2,7,14, 21 )
(E) MIZO DISTRICT BORDER
Reports of M.N.F. leaders heading local administration in the Chittagong Hills Tract have boosted morale of the pro-MNF elements in an outside Mizo District. Secret information indicates that the Pakistan has been planning to send contingents of armed Mizos with strong Pak Army cover into Mizo district to liberate their s0-called Mizoram State. Recent reports, however, tend to indicate that there has since been some crack in the M.N.F. leadership and that they have been desperately trying to have some political settlement with the Govt. of India before them.N.F. fully collapse. Rev. Zairama and the Church have been trying to help this out.
A number of Check Post/Registration Centres have been opened all along the border and at the important road and railway junctions including Badarpur, Lumding and Fakiragram, evacuees coming from Tripura and West Bengal are being intercepted and contained in the border districts of Cachar and Goalpara respectively. In the refugee camps also Police Parties have been detailed for maintenance of peace and order and also for screening the evacuees. The availability of Police Force in the State, however, is inadequate to cope with the serious security problems arising out of the Bangla Desh Movement. It has also been keenly felt that the internal security scheme for the protection of our lines of communication, vital areas and vital installations should be put into operation at least partly at the initial stage. The scheme indicating the requirement of additional Police Force has already been admitted to the Govt. of India. Sanction has since been received to implement a part of scheme.
The Border Security Force also has since been reinforced to deal with the problem of intrusion into our territory by the Army. Recently one officer of the rank of Inspector General of Police has also been posted to their region.
The possibility of the civil war in East Bengal soon taking the form of an unprecedented war by Pakistan against India is there. The Govt. of India is aware of such a contingency and accordingly defence preparations in the region also have been growing up.
The C.P. (ML)/extremist had plans to join hands with their counterparts in East Bengal, Nagaland and Mizo District in their bid to liberate this region comprising the Bengali-speaking population of Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, East Bengal, Assam and Tripura with possibility of including NEFA, Nagaland.
It is also well known that the warlords of Pakistan had been dreaming to convert this north-eastern region into another Kashmir. The activities of the pro-Pak elements have been kept under close watch. The Maintenance of Internal Security Ordinance to take undesirable elements into preventive custody and the orders declaring certain sections of the Indian Penal Code cognizable are found to be timely measures to enable the Government to curb the activities of the ant-social elements.
INFLUX OF REFUGEES, ITS AFFECT IN THE STATE
The influx of refugees into Assam and Meghalaya from the beginning of April, 1971 is estimated at about 4,10,000 up to 16.6.71. Out of these, about 3,28,135 were admitted in camps and the rest are either staying with relatives or awaiting admission into the camps. In Meghalaya, about 2,23,000 refugees are staying in camps. The number of refugees in Assam is continually on the increase on account of daily entry on considerable scale and is likely to continue so judging from reports of developments in East Bengal. There is also the possibility of refugees coming over from Meghalaya. On the other hand, the attitude of the people of the State is of serious apprehension at the tide of influx continuing without any signs of early abatement. The communal incident at Badarpur and the other recent incidents involving linguistic groups in the Brahmputra valley indicates that agent provocateurs are actively engaged in creating seeds of disorder throughout the State and taking advantage of the sense of anxiety and apprehension already felt by a large section of the people. The Statement given by an active member of Council Muslim League of East Bengal recently arrested at Lumding in Nowgong district bears out this fact.
In the context of situation prevailing in the State, the Centreβs proposal to locate large size refugees camps at Ledo and Sorbhog will imposea well-nigh insupportable burden on the State Government. While all State Govt. are urging measures for arranging shifting even the existing refugees to other States not bordering East Bengal, any suggestion to being fresh refugees from Tripura to Assam can obviously not be considered. If the occasion arises is set up camps in Assam for refugees shifted from Tripura, it should be clearly understood that these would be only transit camp for refugees to halt for few days on route to other states. However, the State Govt. will be willing to consider setting up camp in Assam to accommodate about 50,000 refugees from Tripura and 25,000 from Meghalaya in the larger interest of the country.
ECONOMIC EFFECT IN THE STATE
The immediate effect of keeping more than 3,00,000 evacuees in the camps has affected the market in the border districts. The prices of essential commodities are rising and on some occasions scarcity of some items has also been felt. The recent strike at the Barauni Rly junction dislocated the movement of more than 2,000 wagons of supplies to the north eastern sector. Though the strike is over, movement of goods has not yet been regular. Recently, reports of acute scarcity of salt were received from Lakhimpur district resulting in the price of this particular item going up and up. It is, therefore, apprehended that if supplies are not regularly maintained, the economy of the common people would be adversely affected. Such a situation will also give rise to the people to agitate against the influx of large number of evacuees from East Bengal. It is, therefore, very important that essential commodities required for the refugee camps should be procured by the F.C.I,, in other states and brought to the camps for issue to the camp authorities. At the same time, additional supplies of food-stuff including rice and wheat and other essential consumer goods should be maintained in all the districts of the State, if any law and order situation on the score or rising prices is to averted.
( to be continued)