ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Killing Fields of Assam

Myth and Reality of Its Muslim Immigration

Assam has been in turmoil since the 1970s over the issue of illegal immigration from Bangladesh. This has frequently manifested itself in attacks on the state's Bengali-speaking Muslims who are accused of not only occupying land belonging to the native population but also diluting and debasing the traditional Assamese Hindu culture through the instrument of a foreign language (Bengali) and an alien religion (Islam). Since the issue of immigration into Assam raises several questions like what is the scale of the problem, what is the division of immigrants between Hindu and Muslim, and how many illegal migrants are there in the state, this paper attempts to look for answers by applying communityspecific reproduction rates to the Muslim and non-Muslim sections of Assam's population and comparing the derived numbers with the actual number of Muslims and non-Muslims in the state. It also evaluates the contribution of Assam's immigrants to its polity and its economy.

I am grateful to Ashwani Saith and Kunal Sen for commenting on an earlier version of this paper though, needless to say, I am solely responsible for its defi ciencies. This paper is dedicated to the memory of my father, Dev Kant Borooah, who, throughout his political life, strove to protect and promote the dignity of Muslims in Assam.

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