Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma advocated to strengthen the intelligence in the state police in wake of an increase in Muslim population in districts bordering Bangladesh. He said the demography of these districts had drastically changed over the past decade.
Sarma said, “All data related to population rise in Assam-Bangladesh border districts are available in the website of Election Commission of India. The data shows the percentage of population has increased. I have over and again mentioned that Muslim population has increased in border districts. Population has increased in Assam-Bangladesh, West Bengal-Bangladesh and West Bengal-Nepal borders.”
He added: “I can’t question as to why this has happened, but we should increase the strength of the intelligence force in Assam Police. We should increase the number of police stations in these areas, where the population has increased. I have categorically stated that the population is surging in some districts. I have also mentioned constituencies where Hindus shall be minority soon. So, on these issues, our police have to respond scientifically.”
Giving examples of the five terror modules busted recently, Sarma further said it had been proven that Assam was becoming a hotbed for Islamic fundamentalists.
The chief minister also said Assam had welcomed the expansion of the jurisdiction of Border Security Force (BSF). “Assam has already welcomed expansion of jurisdiction of BSF. We are offering all cooperation to BSF and our relations with the national security grid are outstanding. We are always working in close cooperation with central government agencies. We are cooperative with all state and central agencies in matters concerning national security,” he added.
According to reports on demographic changes in border districts, Sarma said at 31.45 per cent, the decadal growth in population from 2011 to 2021, within 10 km of the Bangladesh border was higher than the projected national and state average of 12.5 per cent and 13.54 per cent.
Hindu population in the four border districts – Dhubri, Karimganj, Cachar and South Salmara – increased from 1,33,240 in 2011 to 1,77,141 in 2021, a rise of 32.9 per cent. The Muslim population, meanwhile, grew by 29.6 per cent in these districts. The total number of Muslims in 2011 stood at 3,95,659, which increased to 5,13,126 in 2021.
In March, Sarma had said Muslims accounted for 35 per cent of the total population of Assam and could no longer be called a minority community.
In November 2021, BSF director general Pankaj Kumar Singh had said demographic changes in certain border districts of Assam and West Bengal could be one of the reasons for the home ministry notification enhancing the jurisdiction of the border guarding force.
Singh had said the 2011 Census reflected the demographic changes and the “demographic balance has changed in Bengal and Assam leading to revolt among the people… voting pattern has changed in the neighbouring border districts… the government thinks that this notification can help catch infiltrators.”
The home ministry had enhanced BSF powers to “arrest, search, and seize” within 50 km from the international boundary in the state.
Other police forces suggested that to counter these demographic changes, the existing intelligence grid needed to be augmented and more police stations, particularly in border areas of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, should be set up.
Intelligence agencies have recommended increasing the range of BSF to 100 KM, owing to the unexpected demographic changes in border areas. Based on the latest records of gram panchayats, Uttar Pradesh and Assam police forces have sent separate reports to the home ministry depicting said change in the last 10 years in border areas of Nepal and Bangladesh.