ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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KERALA-The Irreconcilables

of their countrymen, they too rejoiced over the fact that Pakistan was being dismembered (which only goes to show how truly 'Indian' we too are!). But the joy was not entirely unmixed, for what would happen to Assam if Bangla Desh became free ? Almost the most immediate consequence of the creation of Bangla Desh has been the total absence of any reference to 'infiltrators' (immigrant Muslim peasants from East Bengal) in newspapers or assembly debates. The 'infiltrator1 has been a permanent factor in political polemics is Assam for such a long time that one finds it difficult to adjust oneself to a situation in which the infiltrator of yesterday has either disappeared into thin air, or in now a temporary resident from a 'friendly country'. A citizen of Bangla Desh, whatever his status in Assam may be, can hardly be asked now to appear before tribunals and establish his bona fides, Not merely are all the 'infiltrators' (whose number was never precisely known, and which fluctuated widely, according to the politician exploiting them at any given moment) going to cease making news, it is even likely that when once things settle down, with a comparatively open border with Bangla Desh, there is a possibility of considerable future illicit immigration into Assam, particularly into pockets (like the district of Now- gong) where there are already considerable concentrations of immigrant communities from East Bengal Looking fairly far ahead, can one see here a prospect of the real, final disintegration of Assam? There are just about 12 million of us, and just across a rather open border, there are over 70 million of them, and the pressure on land there is far worse than it is here. Would it be too far-fetched to suggest that, despite all the smooth talk that is now going on about the eternal friendship between India and Bangla Desh, the North-Eastern Region might prove a potential area of conflict between the two countries? Assam, one scarcely needs to be reminded, was conceived to be part of the 'Muslim Bengal' by the proponents of Pakistan before Partition. New Delhi, at least, seems to have had some of these future problems in mind in its proposal for a North-Eastern Council for the whole region, which, shorn of the pious verbiage about its 'advisory capacity' and its being an instrument for 'the co-ordinated development of the region', reduces itself to a device for keeping order in this area. To wit, the North-Eastern Council shall "review, from time to time, the measures taken by the States represented on the Council for the maintenance of security and public order therein and recommend to the governments of the states concerned further measures necessary in this regard". "Each ministry of the Central Government dealing with matters relating to Defence, Finance, Home Affairs and Planning will nominate an officer [on the Council]." (italics added).

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