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2. Immigration from Bangladesh

2.1. The uses of migration

������ In the demographic competition, simple procreation is not the only factor.There are cases where Muslims are in a minority and use migra�tion to remedy their minority con�dition.This does not, of course, mean that all Muslims involved in such migration are conscious soldiers in a demographic offensive ("�infiltrators"), but an element of planning may nonetheless be involved, or may arise in certain activist circles once the polit�ical potential of an ongoing migra�tion process becomes ap�parent.

������ Thus, about the situation in Euro�pe, Bat Ye'or obser�ves: "The Is�lamicist move�ment does not conceal its intention to islamize Europe at all.Brochu�res sold in Europ�ean Islamic cent�res explain goal and means, includ�ing conver�sion work, marri�ages with native women, and espec�ially immigration.Knowing that Islam always star�ted as a minor�ity in the countries it con�quered, these ideologues con�sider the implan�tation of Islam in Europe and the USA as a great chance for Is�lam."

������ The Islamic calendar starts with a momentous migra�tion, that of Mohammed and his followers from Mecca to Medina.The result of this immigration from the Medinese viewpoint was that the city lost its auto�nomy to Mohamm�ed, who became its dictator and expelled or killed sec�tions of its population.

������ A rec�ent��� case of the use of demography� in the interes����������t of Islam was on the occasion of the 1994 provin�cial elections in the Malay�sian provi�nce of Sabah: "The number of Muslim‑dominated constitue�ncies in Sabah has increased from 17 in 1990 to 24 in 1994.The [Chri�stian�‑led] Parti Bersatu Sabah has accused [the ruling party] of flooding the state with Muslim immigrants from In�donesia and the Philippi�nes.Some es�timates put the number of immigrants as high as 800,000", with Sabah's original population numbering 1.5 mil�lion.

������ The situation in In�dia follows the same pat�tern: higher Muslim birth rate, and migra�tion creating Muslim majorities in strategic plac�es.This is most visible in the problem of illegal im�migrat�ion from Bangladesh in the 1980s and 90s, the most common occasion for using the term "demog�raphic aggres�sion".In the case of im�migration, the intentionality is un�de�niable but it is not neces�sarily or at least not exclusively motiva�ted by Islamic concerns: Bangladesh is simply over�populated and wants to get rid of its populat�ion surp�lus by all means available.Non-Muslim gover�nments would probably pursue a similar policy in similar circumstan�ces.

������ One factor which makes India the prime target of Bangladesh's demo�graphic dumping policy, apart from its geographical contiguity, is the tough policy of other countries vis-�-vis illegal or even legal im�migran�ts: "At the end of last year, there were still more than 100,000 illegal immigrant workers from Bangladesh in Malaysia.As of early February 1997 they are massively expelled by the Malay Government. (...) Bangla�desh has some experience with such disast�ers: last year already, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar expelled some 50,000 illegal Bangladeshis. (...) Three years ago, the Malaysian Government signed an agreement with the Govern�ment in Dhaka agreeing to take in 50,000 new guest workers from Bangladesh.But when more and more Bangladeshis entered the countries secretly and started to work without work permit, Malay�sia canceled the agreement unilaterally."Against Bangladesh's aggressive policy of encouraging its citizens to trespass against the laws of other countries by settling there without permit, most other countries defend themselves with a non-nonsense policy of cracking down on these infiltrators.

 

2.2. Refugees and migrants

������ Immigration from Bangladesh is of two types.Firstly there are members of the minority communities fleeing occasional waves of per�secution or the more general sense of being second-class citiz�ens under the Islamic dispensation.Few Hindus would disput������������������e their right to settle down in India.Secondly, there are Mus�lims seek�ing econom��ic oppor�tunities or sheer living space, which dirt-poor and inten�sely overc�rowded Banglad�esh cannot offer to the ever-larger num�bers of newcomers on the hous�ing and labour market.

������ Hindu Revivalists are glad to quote unsuspect secular sources to confirm their worst misgivings about Muslim demographic aggres�sion from Bangladesh.A 1992 report prepared by B.B. Dutta for the North-Eastern Congr�ess Coordination Com�mittee meeting in Guwahati looked into both types of im�migration and notes:

������ "Between 1971 and 1981, Bangladesh census records show a reduc�tion of 39 lakhs in the minority population.

������ "Between 1981-89, 36 lakh religious minorities were missing from that coun�try.

������ "In 1972, there were 7.5 lakh Bihari Muslims in the camps in Dacca.As a result of mediation by Saudi Arabia only 33,000 of them were accepted by Paki�stan.At pres�e�nt, there are less than two lakhs in the camps, where have the rest gone? (...)

������ "It would be interesting to note that a group of intellectuals in Dacca is seeking to legitimise the migrat�ion of Muslims into the adjoining areas of North East region by invoking the theory of lebensraum or living space.A number of Dacca dailies carried articles written on these lines by university professors.They were not at all apologetic about the in�filtrati�on.People are sought to be inspired by the hope that one day the north-eastern region will be added to Bangladesh giving it a natural boundary in place of present one which throttles Bangla�desh."

������ So, there is a large emigration of non-Muslims, but there is also a large emi�gration of Muslims, as exemplif�ied by the case of the Bihari Muslims in Bangladesh, of whom the great major�ity, feeling unwelcome both in Bangl�adesh and in Pakistan, have simply returned to Bihar and ad�join�ing areas, whence their parents had left for the promi�sed land of (East) Pakistan in 1947.Moreo�ver, the inten�tiona�lity of the population shift from Bangladesh to India is expressed quite candidly by opinion leaders in Banglad�esh.

������ The BJP argues that refugees from persecution and illegal economic migrants merit a different treat�ment, as is assumed in the arrangements for refugee relief of most countries.But sec�ularists see it differently, for "unlike the BJP, the Congre�ss (I) views both Hindus and Muslim from Bangladesh as in�filtrat�ors".��Terminology is a part of the problem here, with secularists systematically describing Hindu refugees as "migrants" if not "infiltrators", and Muslim illegal immigrants as "refugees".

 

2.3. An estimate of the numbers

������ Arun Shourie has brought the findings of the police and other Government agencies to the notice of the publ�ic.According to an Inter�nal Note prepared by the Home Minist�ry, "large-scale infiltration has changed the demographic landscape of the bor�ders", and it also af�fects Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, etc.

������ By 1987, the number of illegal immigrants in West Ben�gal alone was ca. 4.4 million, and 2 to 3 million in Assam, so that "large stretches of the border in these states are becoming predominantly inhabited by Banglade�shi Muslims.The simme�ring communal tension in some of the border areas is one of the manife�stations of the effects of large-scale illegal migration of Bangl�adeshi nationals who have slowly displaced or dispossessed the local population, particularly those belonging to the Hindu com�munity".Moreov�er: "In the metropolitan cities of Delhi and Bombay not less than 4 to 5 lakh Bangladeshi Muslims have been residi�ng".

������ The Hindu population in East Bengal had declined from 33% in 1901 to 28% in 1941.It fell to 22% by 1951 due to the Partition and the post-Partition exodus, and to 18.5% in 1961.By 1971, it had fallen to 13.5%, partly due to the 1971 massacre by the Pakistani Army, partly due to intermittent waves of emigrati�on.The 1981 figure was 12.1%.In 1989 and 1990, due to "large-scale destru�ction, desecration and damage inflic�ted on Hindu temples and religious institutions", "clandestine migrat�ion��� by the Hindus to India went up".

���� On top of the con�tinu�ous trickle of Hin�du‑Buddh�ist refugees fleeing discrimi�nat�ion and harassment, the big major�ity of clandestine immigrants consisted of Muslims seeking "living space".It is very hard to count them, but the difference between the actual Bangladesh populat�ion in 1991 and predictions for 1991 based on the birth rate and other data shows that millions of people have disappeared from the radar screen of Bangladeshi census workers: "The net shortfall, according to Bangla�desh gover�nment projec�tion was between 7.24 and 9.24 million, and according to UNDP estimates it was between 12.24 and 14.24 million."And since 1991, mil�li�ons more have been added to that number.

 

2.4. Indian worries

������ All the BJP's "genuine secularists" are, in their heart of hearts, wor�ried about the demographic increase of the minorities, but they don't want to admit it in so many words.Thus, in its 1996 Elec�tion Manifes�to, the BJP warns that beca�use of Bangla�deshi in�filtration, "various demogra�phic entities are bound to come in conflict" due to "an alar�ming growth of a section of the populati�on"; already, "a section of the popu�lation has grown by almost 100 per cent" in certain northeastern are�as.��Not wan�ting to sound anti-Mus�lim, the BJP avoids being expli�cit about the "co�mmun�al" angle.

������ Even to the extent that the BJP does identify the problem as "i�llegal Banglad�eshi Muslims", it dooms itself to an unimaginative (and by now probably unrealis�tic) solution, viz. to physically push these people back across the border, and then build a her�metic fence around Banglad�esh.However, the BJP state gov�ern�ment in Delhi, voted to power in 1993 on a plat�form promine�ntly includ�ing a crack�down on Ban�glade�shi "in�filtr�ators", has total�ly gone back on this prom�ise.Few people seem to realize that the only democratic way to conduct this policy of allowing illegal immigration is to have Parliament pass a law declaring: "He�ncefo�rth, India gives up the right to control its borders and the access to its territory", a right which is one of the defining elements of sover�eignty.Allowing illegal immigration to continue is an act of contempt for India's democratic laws and institutions.

������ Even a secularist paper has noticed the seriousness of the prob�lem: "The police say that Bangladeshis are behind most of the robberies, stabbings and other crimes being com�mitted in the capital.Their area of operation includes posh localities in South Delhi where most of them work as domestic help.(...) Scarce job opportunities are thus being hijac�ked by these foreigners.Pakistan claims to be a great friend of Bangla�desh, but it is unwilling to allow even one Bangladeshi to stay on.In fact, Pakistan gunned down hundreds of Bangladeshis who were trying to sneak into its territory.If this is how Pakistan is dealing with the situation, there is no need why we should be so generous.As a first step, India's borders with Bangladesh should be effec�tively sealed.As for those Bangladeshis who are already in the country, they should be identified and deported.Otherwise, the whole country will be paying a very heavy price."

������ As against the reassuring view that Muslims can only outnumber Hindus in India in a matter of centuries, the evolution in the North-East suggests that the problem of a Muslim majority will take the form of the successive Unterwanderung ("to overwhelm by walking in") of designated parts of India within decades.The demog�raphic evolu�tion is bound to create succes�sive Kash�mir-type situatio�ns, with local Muslim majorities in a (decreasingly) Hin�du-majority republic.