Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging ]
The recent decision by the government to grant citizenship to many Chakma and Hajong refugees settled in Arunachal Pradesh ruffled many feathers in the state. The decision led to widespread opposition by all indigenous citizens of the state and a state bandh was declared to protest against the decision. Most Arunachali natives are aware and are very wary about the threat posed by refugees like Chakma, Hajong and Tibetans.
However, there is an emerging threat from another direction which does not get adequate attention. There is a clear and present danger posed to indigenous population by migrants from other regions of India. Many areas of north east are subject to this potent but concealed danger. Tripura is a typical example wherein the aboriginal tribal population has been reduced to a minority. The dominance of migrants has been such that the native tribal population are demanding a new state within Tripura.
Another example is Assam. Almost all major businesses of Assam are dominated by migrants. With Guwahati being the main wholesale centre of North East India, the migrant community controls the economy of the entire north east. Important cities like Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Jorhat, etc are dominated by other non-native communities. Demographically and politically also, the dominance of migrants is such that amongst the 14 Lok Sabha MPs of Assam, only 4 are original Assamese.
As per latest census figures, almost 36 percent population of Arunachal Pradesh is non ST, i.e. migrants. Even in our state most businesses and shops are dominated by migrants. It may not be wrong to state that the economy of our state is also dominated by migrants. Most supplies to govt organisations are dominated by migrant suppliers based in Assam and other states. There is a huge economic outflow of Arunachali money to other states.
A few months back there was a major incident at Silapathar in Assam between natives and migrants. The incident led to violence and massive protests in Assam with allegations and counter allegations from both sides. This incident should be a major lesson for our statesince migrant communities based in border towns like Silapathar, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur, Tezpur etc indirectly control the economy of Arunachal Pradesh.
The dominance of migrants in the economy of north east is partly due to the reluctance and incapability of local natives in this field. Normally, natives are more interested in govt jobs and there is a stigma associated with getting into business and industries. Before more damage is done, urgent steps are required to curb this menacing threat of migrants.
Many constituencies of our state are already dominated by migrant voters. The day is not far when there would be an MLA or MP from the migrant population in Arunachal Pradesh. Our political leadership and citizens need to take notice of this clear and present danger.(The writer is a retired Group Captain of the Indian Air Force)