1. Assam's Tryst With Immigration
Assam’s tryst with migration goes back as early as the 20th century. According to the White Papers on Foreigners’ Issues released by the Assam government in October 2012, the conquest of Assam by the British in 1826, created a large number of “petty jobs.” As the British expanded their base in Assam, these positions were filled by hiring educated Bengali clerks, who were tasked with the upkeep of the empire.
Around the same time, the discovery of tea in Assam, followed by its growing cultivation, required a large number of low-cost workers. This, the British ensured, by bringing in tribals from Bihar, Odisha, Chotanagpur, Central and United provinces.
Further, episodes of mass-migration were witnessed in Assam during Partition and finally during Bangladesh’s war of liberation in 1971. It is reported that nearly 10 million people migrated from East Bengal (Bangladesh) to India during this period.
The combination of these factors eventually led to a surge in the number of Muslims in Assam. According to the 1991 Census, their number grew to 8,20,000 in Assam, which political scientist Myron Weiner claimed, “ was 4,24,000 more than could be accounted for through natural increase.”