NATURE AND IIMPACT OF DEMOGRAPHIIC
A change in the demographic pattern in a country is an obvious resultant effect of migration which is as old as human civilization, but if the change is significantly high in a short span of time it is bound to cause a serious social concern for the country experiencing this phenomenon. No people of a country accept migratory people with open arms and when this migration of people belonging to a separate religion takes the shape of a design the question of acceptance almost vanishes giving rise to social unrest and tension. Significantly, however, there has been marked departure from this hypothesis so far as migration/infiltration from East Pakistan/Bangladesh to
West Bengal is concerned. The Hindus who were uprooted from their hearth and home in East Pakistan due to religious persecution and measures or lack of them, taken by the successive Governments in after partition in 1947 were accepted as Bangladesh
refugees by the Government of India and her people, not of course without grudge, and were given shelter, citizenship and were gradually absorbed in the mainstream of Indian people, particularly that of
West Bengal. This was quite understandable. But what happened after the birth of Bangladesh w3hen it was the declared policy of the Government of India not to grant citizenship to any people (even if they were Hindus and were forced to leave as refugees after 1971? In what way the migratory trend post 1971 was different from the earlier trends? How were hordes of Muslims able to settle in the border districts of Bangladesh West Bengal without much notice and commotion? How was this silent demographic invasion possible? Was there any historical perspective behind this large scale infiltration or a well thought out design of our neighboring country? What change this invasion has brought up in the demographic pattern of
border districts as well as interior districts of
West Bengal? These are the queries I have tried to address in this book.
I would like to make it clear that no extraneous facts except that are borne out of the data available from the Census reports have been considered for determining the change in the demographic pattern and the author has been swayed by reason to spell out some of its fallouts and possible danger to the polity of West Bengal socio politically as well as economically. One does not have to be communal or for that matter secular in one’s attempt to pin point a social change which is part of history and history does not have any conscience of what is good or what is evil but its grand design provides some clues in finding out ways and means to mend our mistakes committed in the past in order to sustain a decent life for the present and the future, socio-politically and economically.
I leave it to the judgment of the readers of this book about its validity of perception, though I strongly believe that those who disagree cannot wish it away as a non-event.
I would be failing in my duty if I do not express my heartfelt gratuitude to Professor Jayanta Kumar Ray who had kindly consented to edit this book. In this connection I also express my sincere thanks to my colleagues Shri P.N. Mukherjee, Smt. Munmum Ganguly and Shri Susanta Mondal for their active cooperation and help in my venture to write this book.
DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE IN
AND ITS IMPLICATIONS
Population Movement or migration, internal or external, is a universal phenomenon of human
society. Its nature, degree, direction and dimension, however, may vary from case to case.
Numerous studies have been conducted to identify the attributes associated with migratory
movements of people. Along with ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors, a variety of explanations are also
available as the cause and effect of migration and consequent societal change.
A change in the demographic pattern in any country is an obvious resultant effect of
migration, which is as old as human civilization, but if the change is significantly high in a short
span of time, it is bound to arouse a serious social concern in the country experiencing the
phenomenon. No people of a country accept migratory people with open arms, and when this
migration of people belonging to a separate ethnic group and religion appears to reveal an unholy
political design, the question of acceptance almost vanishes, giving rise to social unrest and
tension. The north eastern region of
India, particularly Assam and West Bengal, are cases in
The change in the demographic pattern of the Eastern and
, particularly North-Eastern States
can sum up the phenomenon in a few words.
A new dimension in the political and social arena has emerged in this eastern and northeastern
India after independence of in 1971. A novel phenomenon of Bangladesh
demographic pressure—emanating from
—started looming larger and larger in the Bangladesh
border region. During the last three decades, illegal migration from
Bangladesh to is going India
on unabated. All the refugees who had been coming to West Bengal during
days were Pakistan
Hindus. In the
Bangladesh era, Hindus are coming as usual like in the days of due to Pakistan
religious persecution and political pressure, but a new feature also started emerging as people
from the majority segment (Muslims), for different reasons and purposes, started coming to West
development, yet no great concern was visible before November 2002. In recent years, the
Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of the NDA Government, the Chief Minister of
issue of illegal Bangladeshi migration, and its implications for internal security issues.
There is no state religion in secular
, which is obliged to protect all religious equally, but India
has to preserve religious peace and harmony under the shadow of its Bangladesh Republic
state religion, viz. Islam. The adoption of Islam as the state religion has utterly demoralized
Hindus, and has reinforced their already powerful compulsions about migration to
Significantly, a state religion cannot extend the minimum of socio-economic protection even to
Muslims, who, instead of being satisfied with living in Islamic Bangladesh, have long been
voting with their feet, and continuously leaving for secular
India, especially and West Assam
socio-economic-political security. Unfortunately, authorities in
have displayed little India
alertness in preempting or coping with this threat.
In this book an attempt has been made to explain the emerging picture consequent upon the
internal demographic changes in the State as well as various districts of
West Bengal. During the
1951-2001 period, the contrast between a decline in Hindu population and an extra-ordinary
upswing in Muslim population is indeed remarkable in every district of the State. In a number of
districts, the rate of growth of the Muslim population is double or more than double that of the
Hindu population. Growth rates of Hindus and Muslims are 198.54% and 310.93% respectively
during 1951-2001. Population share of Hindus and Muslims in 1951 was 78.45% and 19.85%
respectively, but during the last fifth years, the share of Hindus in
West Bengal has come down to
72.47%—a decrease by 6%—whereas the share of Muslims has increased to 25.25%—an
increase of 5.40%.
Another important aspect of growth of population as per 2001 Population Census is in the
group of 0-6 years population. The growth rate of Hindus and Muslims in this group stood at
12.69% and 18.7% respectively and the share of this group (0-6) of Muslims among all religions
West Bengal is 33.17%, though population share of Muslims in the State is only 25.25%. On
the other hand, the share of Hindus in the same population group (0-6) is only 64.61% in spite of
their population share of 72.47%. This excessive increase of 0-6 group of population in the
Muslim society in
West Bengal tends towards a serious consequences. 0-6 population profile of
the State /districts are shown in the Annexure I.
On account of the Partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, Hindu refugees moved from
East Pakistan, without much interruption, to various parts of
India, especially to West Bengal, till
1971, when political boundaries in
South Asia were redrawn. Even after the emergence of
appeared to be ceaseless. In the days of
Pakistan, most of the refugees coming to West Bengal
were members of the minority communities in East Bengal (
East Pakistan), viz. Hindus, Buddhist
and Christians. But after the Nehru—Liaquat Agreement on 8th April, 1950, drawn up in the
contest of a massive exodus of displaced migrants from
East Bengal to West Bengal, Assam and
Tripura, most of the Muslim migrants who had in the early days of Partition crossed over to East
during 4the entire period of undivided
i.e. 1950-1971. According to the 1950 Pakistan
Agreement, the “Indian government ensured to the minorities throughout its territory, complete
equality of the citizenship, irrespective of religion, a full sense of security in respect of life,
culture, property and personal honour, freedom of movement within each country and freedom of
occupation, speech and worship, subject to law and morality.”
also assured minorities India
“equal opportunity with members of the majority community t6o [participate in the public life of
their country, to hold political or other offices and to serve in their country’s civil and armed
forces.” (Annexure II)
On the other hand, the
government neglected to implement the agreement or failed to Pakistan
enforce the fundamental rights of minorities in their country, as mentioned in the agreement. As a
result, no Hindu migrant returned back to East Pakistan/East Bengal after the Nehru—Liaquat
Agreement. Therefore, during 1951-1961, the share of Hindu population in
declined by 3.5%, i.e. from 22.0% in 1951 to 18.5% in 1961 with a growth rate of only 1.53%.
Even during the 1961-1974 period, the share of the Hindu population further declined by 5%, and
came down to 13.5% in 1074. A large number of Hindu families, who crossed over to
during the liberation war of
in 1971, did not return. Bangladesh
The minority community in
participated in the War of Liberation with the Bangladesh
expectation that in the newly liberated country they would enjoy status and rights along with the
majority community. But in practice, the persecution of the minorities continued even after
independence. The forms of oppression of the religious minorities in
are manifold. Bangladesh
Constitutionally, they have been downgraded; economically, they have been crippled through
different discriminatory laws and practices; politically, they have been segregated and alienated
from the mainstream; they have been made a non-entity in different government and nongovernment
services; culturally and socially, they are insecure. They are totally deprived of the
privileges of participation in the top positions of government, and nationally they are used as
subjects tortured through communal riots organized by the government of counteracting political
unrest against the ruling party. As a consequence of the discriminatory polities, combined with
land grabbling, looting, arson, rape, murder and attack on religious institutions of the religious
minorities with the collusion, if not instigation, of the government or semi-government agencies,
there has been a continuous exodus of the minorities from
After the emergence of a sovereign
Bangladesh in 1971, the Muslims in West Bengal did not
feel any urge to migrate to
because of the initially diminished Islamic fervor there in Bangladesh
. On the contrary, many Muslim families, who had migrated to the then Pakistan
East Pakistan came back and started living in several districts of
West Bengal with a variety of
help from a section of influential local Muslims, and ultimately settled in these areas, since they
could not fit in with the Bengali Nationalism that emerged from the liberation struggle of
haven in this region. Consequently, the Muslim population in the border districts as well as in
other interior districts of
West Bengal increased in geometric progression. In the nineteen
eighties, Muslims in the border areas were further encouraged for community consolidation by
the ruling parties of
West Bengal. Demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992 came as a great
excuse for the perpetration of organized crimes/dacoities by local Muslims, and there were cases
of assaults on the Hindu families in connivance with Bangladeshi Muslims, particularly in the
. Other criminal activities increased quite rapidly, and this, coupled Bangladesh
with non-cooperation of the local administration (the police, the Panchayats, etc.) and the party in
power determined to keep intact the Muslim vote-bank, forced many Hindu families to move to
other interior Hindu dominated areas, leaving the border areas as densely populated by Muslims.
In the nineteen eighties, planned migration from
conformed to the lebensraum Bangladesh
theory, which was encouraged by the Indian Muslims in the border States under the protection
and patronization of some political and social forces of
’s Eastern and North Eastern region. India
This continuous infiltration from across the border is slowly and steadily changing the
demographic pattern in the border areas, especially in the States of West Bengal and
. This Assam
changed demographic scenario easily lends itself to disrupting social harmony. Already it has
taken a shape of demographic invasion in the region, which is threatening our secular polity and
national security. This is a religio-cultural process taking place in a geographical space
considered to be strategically important. Thus, the emergence of
has created in the Bangladesh
North-Eastern States of India certain conditions conductive to Islamisation. At least there factors,
facilitating the process of Islamisation, are obvious. First, strangely enough, whatever
Islamisation has occurred in these parts of North-Eastern and Eastern
has happened within a India
secular political environment. Secondly, the appeasement of aliens for the purpose of garnering
votes and the continuous anti-Centre stance have been conducive to the expansion of a psyche of
Islamisation. Thirdly, a weak, undefined and unorganized secular frame has failed to combat the
process of Islamisation.
Frequent failure of living with a multi-cultural ethos has jeopardized communal harmony, and
defaced the secular fabric of the Indian society. Islamisation has always been, historically, a
‘power concept’. When secular forces come forward to protect social harmony on the basis of a
dominant culture with a highly powerful assimilating force, forces of Islamisation might claim
their due and finally crave for a division of the same, assertive secular society.
From the very beginning since the liberation of 1971, Hindus who had earlier gone to
refugees and returned to independent
, again started migrating from the newly Bangladesh
independent country to
, because they failed to retrieve their property and enjoy social India
security. Bengali nationalism was eroding fast, and anti-India sentiment was growing rapidly.
After the assassination of Sheikh Mujib in 1975, the relevance of the very
concept of Bangladesh
1971 was lost, and
became a state tilting towards Islamisation. All this shows that the Bangladesh
emergent idea of a secular
, partially apparent in 1971, was not only missing but was Bangladesh
probably mistaken. Mujib’s case of fighting against
had finally given way to a Pakistan
new secular-democratic prospect, Muslims suffered from a bankruptcy of leadership, which threw
them eventually into the clutches of Mushtaq Ahmed, Ziaur Rahman and others after Mujib’s
death. It was a pity that
came out as a country and a state with an overt Islamic Bangladesh
An observed from the Bangladesh Population Census 2001, the share of Hindu population has
come down to 9.2% only. During the last 50 years since 1951, the comparatively lower growth
rate of Hindus indicates a steady migration of Hindu population from Bangladesh to India,
particularly to the State of West Bengal. On the other hand, a steady growth of Muslim
population since 1951 has enhanced their population share from 76.9% in 1951 to 89.7% in 2001.
During the last five decades (1951-2001), the growth rate of Muslim population is 244.68% as
against 23.16% of Hindu population. Side by side, the growth rate of Muslim population in West
Bengal during the same period is 310.93%, i.e. much higher than in Bangladesh. How can it be
possible when the growth rate of Hindus in West Bengal in the same period is 198.54%? It clearly
indicates a massive Muslim infiltration fro Bangladesh to West Bengal. Consequently, the share
of Muslim population has increased by about 6% in West Bengal during the last fifty years (1951-
2001) after the Partition of India i.e. from 19.85% in 1951 to 22.25% in 2001 (see Chart Nos. 1,
2, 3 & 4 and Annexures Iii & IV).
To facilitate a clear comprehension of this phenomenon, we have analyzed district level trends
of population share and growth ragtes of Hindus and Muslims in West Bengal during 1951-2001.
We have gone into some details in this study of salient aspects of the demographic changes
and their implications in the selected districts of West Bengal so as to gauge the local situation,
particularly during the 1981-1991 decade, when a massive jump in the growth rate of Muslims
was observed in almost all the districts of West Bengal. Our micro-level analysis on 24 Parganas
(North), Nadia, Murshidabad and Uttar/Dakshin Dinajpur has revealed in interesting picture. If
we go through the Block level religious composition data of the above districts during 1981-1991,
it will be seen from various tables that the share of Muslim population in some Blocks within a
decade has risen abruptly to a staggering figure [See Habra, Hasnabad, Basirhat, Mograhat,
Chapra, Tapan etc.]. Moreover, in most of the Blocks, the share of Muslim population has risen
significantly. Other than demographic realties of the districts, we have discussed the infiltration
situation, as also crimes including trans-border crimes, the changing scenario of religio-cultural
activities, and relations among the different communities. Etc. (See Chapter Three)
Our Block level analysis of data for the districts of West Bengal have revealed a dismal
picture of inept border management and grave security lapses, to the benefit of the vested
interests of all the political parties of the State of West Bengal. This has posed an immeasurably
serious threat to India’s national security. Apart from the criminal activities associated with the
smuggling of livestock and many essential commodities of daily consumption to Bangladesh, a
long term plan for forcing out Hindus from the border areas of West Bengal is evidently in
operation. The growth of Islamic fundamentalist forces under the umbrella of different political
organizations, the easy access of terrorist outfits to sensitive locations assured by India’s seculardemocratic
culture, and the perennial influx of Bangladeshi Muslims into West Bengal’s border
belt, have obviously facilitated the systematic eviction of Hindus from this belt.
Even a very casual enquiry shall reveal that the local administrators in West Bengal are
indifferent to the rapid demographic transformation of the State. It is also important to note that
such indifference to anti-national activities by the Bangladeshi people can spell a clear danger to
internal security and social harmony. For the same reasons, the one time Hindu majority border
villages have now turned into Muslim majority villages. In most of the Hindu majority villages
the entire cattle population are left to the care of the Border Security Forces (BSF) or uder the
protection of local police stations before it is dusk, and taken away by the owners at dawn. It
needs mentioning that the incidents of dacoity, cattle lifting, rape, kidnap and murder are more or
less non-existent in the Muslim inhabited border villages of West Bengal.
Since most of the adjoining areas in Bangladesh are predominated by the Muslims, a huge and
continuous influx of illegal Muslim migrants from Bangladesh has turned the socio-economic
scenario from Bangladesh has turned the socio-economic scenario against the Hindus. Weak and
inefficient border management and non-cooperation of local populace with the BSF and the most
important reasons behind this legal trans-border movement of population as also smuggling of
cows and many contraband goods. Due to the poor border management and political patronage,
Muslims with vested interests have been successful in influencing the administrative decisions in
the entire border region.
For more than three decades (1971-2005) there ahs been a ceaseless and significant
demographic change in the districts of West Bengal, particularly districts adjoining Bangladesh.
Now both sides of the Indo-Bangladesh border region are inhabited by a population which is
ethnically, culturally, linguistically and religiously identical. Already, thus, it has taken the shape
of a demographic invasion.
To sum up, callous local administration, limited scope for earning income in the
incompetently managed economy of Bangladesh and religious vested interests may not always be
meticulously working out anti-Indian designs, but from ground level data the impression is
inescapable that they are so working. The most important fact to note is that the residual Hindu
population in some border villages, still not insignificant, remains under a constant pressure to
migrate from their traditional and ancestral places of habitation. Opinion makers and decision
makers have not paid even the minimum of attention to available data on this significant subject.
Such data, recorded and analyzed in the present study, deserve immediate attention from all those
who are genuinely interested in national integration, internal security and social harmony in India
DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES : DISTRICTWISE
PROFILE OF WEST
District: Koch Bihar
Koch Bihar is situated on the north and north-eastern corner of West Bengal. Paddy and Jute
are the main agricultural products. Timber, cane and handicrafts are among the major industries.
The demographic profile of Koch Bihar, particularly the religious component of demographic
trends during 1951-2001, is interesting. After the Partition of India in 1947, a massive number of
Bengali Hindus from East Pakistan migrated to this district till 1971, and a good number of Hindu
refugees, who had crossed over to this district during the nine months of Bangladesh Liberation
War in 1971, die no return to newly independent Bangladesh. As a result, from 1951 to 1981, a
continuously high rate of growth of Hindu population is observed. But no notable out-migration
of Muslim population is observed. But no notable out-migration of Muslim population from this
district to East Pakistan or Bangladesh in the above period was observed. On the other hand, a
massive Muslim infiltration from Bangladesh to this district during the last two (1981-2001)
decades was notable, particularly in the 1981-1991 period, which witnessed an exceedingly high
growth of Muslim population (37.63%), enhancing their population share in one decade by 2.56%
(i.e. 23.34% in 1991 as against 20.78% in 1981). But, no mentionable Hindu immigration from
Bangladesh in the above period is observed. During the last five decades (1951-2001), growth
rates of Hindu and Muslim population were 293.39% and 209.4% respectively.
Decade-wise population shares and growth rates for Hindus and Muslim during 1951-2001 are
shown in the chart nos. 5 & 6.
This district is situated at the foothills of the Himalayas. Most of the areas of Jalpaiguri district
were earlier known as the Doors Region. In the post-independence period, Jalpaiguri remains the
sole gateway to North-East India. Apart from tea, the other agricultural products are paddy, jute,
betel leaves and fruits. Timber and cane are the two major industries in Jalpaiguri. After the
Partition of India, particularly during the 1951-1961 period, a massive number of Hindu refugees
had immigrated to this district from East Pakistan. On the other hand, a large number of Muslims,
who had crossed over to East Pakistan after Partition, came back after Nehru-Liaquat Agreement
of 1950. Gradually, but significantly, Hindu immigration came down during the last four decades
(1961-2001). But, Muslim immigration to this district during 1981-2001 was found to have risen
significantly. Growth rates of Muslims in the above two decades are 45.13% and 31.36%
respectively and their population share shot up from 8.75% to 10.85% in 2001.
Decade-wise population shares of religious communities and their growth rates are shown in
the chart nos. 7 & 8.
Malda is situated on the eastern bank of river Ganga bordering the Rajshahi district of
Bangladesh. It is basically an agricultural district with paddy and jute being the main products. It
is also famous for fruit production, particularly mangoes. Demographic transformation of this
district during 1951-2001 is very interesting. Population shares of Hindus and Muslims in 1951
were 62.92% and 36.97% respectively. The growth rate of Muslims during the 1951-1961 period
was remarkably high (62.8%), and Muslim population share shot up from 36.97% to 46.18%.
After the Nehru-Liaquat Agreement in 1950, most of the Muslims, who had migrated to East
Pakistan after Partition, came back and settled in the district during this decade. On the other
hand, the growth rate of Hindus, i.e. 11.11%, indicates that no Hindu immigration took place in
the above period. But the 1961-1971 decade witnessed a significant Hindu immigration in the
district. During the last three decades (1971-2001), however, the share of Muslim population in
the district has surpassed that of Hindu population because of unabated Muslim immigration from
Bangladesh. Within the last fifty years (1951-2001), Malda has become a Muslim-majority
district by increasing its population share from 36.97 to 49.72%. Growth rates of Hindus and
Muslims during this period were 174.87% and 372.0% respectively.
Decade-wise populations shares of religious communities and their growth rates are shown in
the chart nos. 9 & 10.
Birbhum is situated in the Rarh region of Bengal bordering Murshidabad and Bardhaman. In
modern times, this district is famous for Santiniketan of Rabindranath Tagore and also for folk art
and culture. After the Partition of India, a good number of Hindu refugees migrated from East
Pakistan to this district. Also, most of the Muslim refugees, who had migrated to East Pakistan
after Partition, came back after the Nehru-Liaquat Agreement of 1950. During the 1951-1971
period, the share of Muslim population in this district increased significantly [i.e. from 26.86% to
29.19%]. The post 1971 scenario is also very interesting. During the last three decades (1971-
2001), the growth of Muslim population is much higher (nearly double) than that of Hindus
[25.24%, 30.16% and 25.19% respectively, as against 14.75%, 18.8% and 14.24%]. Massive
infiltration of Muslims from Bangladesh is the main reason for their higher grown rates. During
the last five decades (1951-2001), Muslim population growth rate has become 269.21% as against
151.07% for Hindus. Currently, the share of Hindu population has come down from 72.60% in
1951 to 64.49%, and the share of Muslim population has risen from 26.86% in 1951 to 35.08%
(2001). With the present rate of growth, the Muslim population will surpass the Hindu population
within a few decades.
Decade-wise population shares and the growth rates on the basis of religion are shown in the
chart nos. 11 & 12.
Bardhaman district is a potentially major industrial base in the country, and it has now become
the granary of West Bengal. After Partition, a good number of Hindu refugees from East Bengal
settled in this district. On the other hand, most of the Muslims, who had migrated to East Pakistan
after Partition, returned back to this district during 1951-1971 because of the Nehru-Liquat
Agreement of 1950. Growth rates of Muslim population during 1951-1961 and 1961-1971 were
respectively 36.79% and 43.74%, which corroborate this phenomenon of in-migration. The post-
1971 phenomenon is also very interesting. The share of Muslim population has risen significantly
(by 2%) during 1981-1991 due to Bangladeshi infiltration to this district. The growth rate of
Muslims in this decade was 38.99% as against 22.42% for Hindus. During the last five decades
(1951-2001), the share of Muslim population has risen from 15.60% in 1951 to 19.78%. Side by
side, the share of Hindu population has declined from 83.73% in 1951 to 78.89% in 2001. Thus,
the trend of growth of the Muslim population since 1951 is consistently higher than that of the
Decade-wise population shares and the growth rates on the basis of religion during 1951-2001
are shown in the chart nos. 13 & 14.
After independence the Hooghly district has become a very important industrial district. Also,
Hooghly has a large hinterland, which is notable for agricultural products. It is situated on the
western bank of the Hooghly river opposite to 24-Parganas on the other side. After partition, a
good number of Hindu refugees settled in this district, but no notable post-1971 settlement is
observed. On the other hand, a continuous growth of Muslim population in this district is easily
discernible. After the Nehru-Liaquat Agreement in 1950, most of the Muslims who had migrated
to East Pakistan after Partition came back to this district. Growth rates of Muslims during 1951-
1961 and 1961-1971 were respectively 36.94% and 31.14%, which corroborates this phenomenon
of in-migration. Growth rates of Muslims during the last three decades (1971-2001) were rather
high—being respectively 32.17%, 29.15% and 20.77%—as against the growth rates of 22.47%,
20.96% and 14.06% for Hindus, thus confirming large scale Bangladeshi infiltration in this
district. During the last five decades, the population growth rate of Hindus in Hooghly is
213.56%, as against 270.20% for Muslims. It is clear from the above data, that Muslim
infiltration from East Pakistan/Bangladesh cannot be ignored in any way.
Trends of shares of Hindu and Muslim population and their growth rates during 1951-2001 are
shown in the chart nos. 15 & 16.
District: South Twenty Four Parganas
After bifurcation of the district of 24 Parganas, the religious composition of the population of
South 24-Parganas was as follows—Hindu 72.96%, Muslim 26.05% and others 1% in 1971. Only
after three decades, the share of Hindu population came down to 65.86%, and the share of the
Muslim population shot up to 33.24%. Particularly, during the last two decades (1981-2001), the
growth rate of Muslim population is remarkably high, i.e. respectively 45.38% and 34.17%, as
against 24.68% and 15.14% for Hindus. The rate of growth of Muslim population is thus double
that of the Hindu population. A massive illegal immigration of Muslims from Bangladesh to this
district is evident during the 1981-2001 period, and a good number of them, noticeably, are Bihari
Muslim immigrants. One can go through micro-level (Block-level) data to get a clear idea of this
massive infiltration and a remarkable decline in the growth rate of Hindus in he selected Blocks
of the district (e.g. Mograhat I & II, Diamond Harbor I & II, Bhangore I & II, etc.).
Decade-wise Hindu-Muslim population shares and their growth rates during 1951-2001 are
shown in the chart nos. 17 & 18.
It is situated at the north and north-west corner of West Bengal bordering Nepal, Sikkim,
Bhutan and Bangladesh. Darjeeling is the main producer of word famous ‘Darjeeling Tea’. It is
interesting for its complex demographic composition and varieties of culture. Out of four
subdivisions, one is in the plain, namely, Siliguri. In 1959, a part of the territory which lay north
of the river Mahananda was transferred from the West Dinajpur district to the Darjeeling district,
so that the Mahananda river formed the boundary between Darjeeling and West Dinajpur. In
1951, the religious composition of the district was as follows : Hindus 81.71%, Muslims 1.14%,
Christians 2.76% and Buddhists 13.96%. During the last five decades, a continuously high
growth of the Muslim and the Christian population is observed. These two communities have
been able to increase their population share significantly by 2001 i.e. by 5.31% and 6.17%
respectively. On the other hand, Hindu and Buddhist population declined to 76.92% and 11.02%
respectively in 2001. A very high growth of Muslim population during the 1951-61 period could
be accounted for by the newly included territory from West Dinajpur. But, during the last three
decades (1971-2001), a remarkably high growth of Muslims was undoubtedly due to infiltration
of Bangladeshi Muslims. Most of the infiltration have taken place in the plain region of the
district. Growth rates of different religious communities during the last fifty years (1951-2001)
were: Hindus 240%, Muslim 1235%, Christian 706% and Buddhists 185%.
Trend of religion-wise population shares and their growth rates during 1951-2001 are shown
in the chart nos. 19 & 20.
Bankura is basically an agricultural district situated on the western periphery of the State
bordering mainly Bardhaman, Medinipur and Purulia. The district is long known for its
handicrafts, art and culture traditions. A good number of Hindu refugee colonies were established
after Partition of Bengal in 1947 in this district. But from 1961 onwards, no notable Hindu
immigration from East Pakistan/Bangladesh is observed, and the growth rate of population (GRP)
of Hindus during the last four decades have always been lower than the State average. On the
other hand, the GRP of Muslims in the above periods has been double or more than double that of
Hindus. Particularly, the post-1971 growth of the Muslim population is remarkably high in this
district. Growth rates of Muslims during 1971-1981, 1981-1991 and 1991-2001 were 36.14%,
38.73% and 28.87% respectively, as against 15.66%, 14.54% and 10.16% for Hindus during the
same period. During the last five decades (1951-2001), Muslim population growth rate shot up to
312.58% as against Hindus at 123.92% only. As a result, the share of Muslim population has
risen from 4.40% in 1951 to 7.51% in 2001. Bangladeshi infiltration is the major reason for this
extra-ordinary growth of number of Muslims in this district.
Trend of religion-wise population shares and their growth rates during 1951-2001 are shown
in the chart nos. 21 & 22.
Purulia is basically an agricultural district with rice being the main product. This district was a
sub-division under the Manbhum district of Bihar at the time of Partition in 1947. In 1956,
Purulia was included in West Bengal under Bihar and West Bengal (Transfer of Territories) Act.
Now it is bordering the newly formed Jharkhand State. After 1947, no Hindu refugee migration
had taken place in this district. The growth rate of Hindus was always lower than the State
average in Purulia during the last four decades. On the other hand, a very high rate of growth of
Muslims has taken place during the last three decades (1971-2001), i.e. respectively 35.79%,
31.74% and 35.74%, as against 14.08%, 19.11% and 4.59% for Hindus. This disparity can only
be attributed to Bangladeshi infiltration. During 1961-2001, Muslim population growth rate is
121.65%, as against Hindus at 67.07% only.
Trend of religion-wise population shares and the growth rates for Hindus and Muslims during
1961-2001 are shown in the form of chart nos. 23 & 24.
Howrah was developed as an industrial base with many industries coming up on the bank of
the Hooghly river during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Howrah is still one of the
most important transit points for passengers and goods movement in the country through rail
links. Howrah remains a pride of place in the industrial map of West Bengal. After Partition in
1947, a good number of refugee colonies were established in the district, but during 1951-2001,
the growth rate of Hindu population was always remarkably lower than that of the State average.
On the other hand, a continuously high growth rate of Muslim population in this district has
raised their population share from 16.22% in 1951 to 24.44% in 2001. A large number of Muslim
families have come back from East Pakistan after the Nehru-Liaquat Agreement in 1950,
although they had migrated to East Pakistan after Partition. The post-1971 Muslim infiltration in
this district is also remarkably high. Growth rates of Muslims in the last three decades (1971-
2001) are 37.51%, 38.48% and 26.02% respectively, as against 19.28%, 22.48% and 10.91% for
Hindus. This can only underline the phenomenon of Bangladeshi infiltration in this district. It
may be mentioned here that a large number of Bihari Muslims from Bangladesh have settled in
this district after 1971. During 1951-2001, the GRP of Muslims stands at 300%, as against 138%
for Hindus. Thus, the growth rate of Muslims is more than double that of the Hindus.
Trend of religion-wise population shares and their growth rates during 1951-2001 are shown
in the chart nos. 25 & 26.
Medinipur is basically an agricultural district. Kharagpur in the district is known for its
important Railway Terminal and Workshop. Haldia is also becoming one of the major industrial
complexes in the State with a fast developing port as an alternative to Kolkata. After Partition, a
few colonies of Hindu refugees from East Bengal were established in this district. But, from 1961
onwards, no notable Hindu was always lower than that of the State observed. GRP of Hindus was
always lower than that of the State average. On the other hand, Muslim immigration in this
district is remarkably high. Most of the Muslims who had migrated to East Pakistan after
Partition, came back during the 1951-1971 period. A massive number of Muslims have illegally
immigrated to this district from Bangladesh during the last three decades (1971-2001),
particularly during the 1981-1991 decade, which may be termed as the ‘decade of infiltration.’
GRP of Muslims stood at 53.17% in this decade only. The share of Muslim population has risen
from 7.17% in 1951 to 11.33% in 2001. During the last fifth years (1951-2001), the growth rate
of Muslim population has reached 352%, as against 166.78% for Hindus.
Trend of religion-wise population shares and their growth rates during 1051-2001 are shown
in the form of chart nos. 27 & 28.
Kolkata witnessed a continuously high growth of Muslim population during the last five
decades (1951-2001). After Partition in 1947, a large number of Hindu evacuees from East
Pakistan had rushed to Kolkata and its outskirts. A large number of colonies were established by
these new entrants in the vicinity of Kolkata. Most of the areas are now under Kolkata
Corporation as well as the Kolkata district. In 1951, Dr. Ashoke Mitra, Superintendent of Census
Operations, West Bengal, had given the figure for the displaced persons who came to Kolkata
after 1947 as 433228. In spite of massive Hindu immigration in Kolkata up to 1971, the growth
rate of Muslims during 1951-1961 and 1961-1971 was unbelievably high, i.e. 22.29% and
46.96% respectively, as against 15.58% and 25.75% for Hindus during these two decades. This
enhanced the population share of Muslims by 2.75% within two decades. One of the main reasons
behind this growth is that most of the refugees who crossed over to East Pakistan after Partition
came back after the Nehru-Liaquat Agreement in 1950. After the liberation of Bangladesh in
1971, a large number of Bangladeshi Biharis have settled in the selected areas of Kolkata. Post-
1971 growth rate of Muslims in Calcutta clearly testifies to this fact. On the other hand, a clear
trend of declining rates of Hindu and Christian population in Kolkata is evident since 1951.
During the last five decades, the share of Muslim population has remarkably increased from
12.0% in 1951 to 20.27% in 2001. On the other hand, the share of Hindu and Christian population
declined from 83.41% and 2.987% respectively in 1951 to 77.68% and 0.88% in 2001. During
1951-2001, the growth rate of Hindus, Muslims and Christians in Kolkata were 67.09%, 202.93%
and –46.97% respectively.
Trend of religion-wise population shares and their growth rates during 1951-2001 are shown
in the form of chart nos. 29 & 30.
N.B. Analysis of Uttar Dinajpur, Murshidabad, Nadia and North-24-Parganas districts have
been included in the Chapter Three as detailed case studies.
DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES : SPECIAL CASE STUDIES OF
FOUR DISTRICTS BORDERINGS
District : West Dinajpur / Uttar Dinajpur / Dakshin Dinajpur
Uttar Dinajpur was created in 1991, after bifurcation of the erstwhile district of West Dinajpur
into Uttar and Dakshin Dinajpur. A major portion of the district passes through a long and narrow
stretch of land from Darjeeling in the north, Bangladesh in the east, Dakshin Dinajpur in the
north, Bangladesh in the east, Dakshin Dinajpur in the south and south-east and Bihar on the
west. When the erstwhile Dinajpur was bifurcated between West Bengal and then East Pakistan
by the Radcliffe Award, the newly created district of West Dinajpur which came to West Bengal
had no direct connection with the other three north Bengal districts of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and
Coochbehar, as a large tract of the then East Pakistan and Bihar intervened between them, and
there was no direct link of these three north Bengal districts with the rest of the State of West
Bengal. A link was provided by the Bihar and West Bengal (Transfer of Territories) Act of 1956,
whereby a strip of land was transferred to West Bengal from the Purnea district of Bihar.
Subsequently, in 1959, a part of the transferred territories lying in the north of river Mahananda
was transferred to the Darjeeling district so that the Mahananda river formed the northern
boundary of West Dinajpur and now Uttar Dinajpur. A new subdivision, namely Islampur, was
created in the same year. Religious composition of the district after partition was as follows :
Hindus 69.3%, Muslims 29.94% and other less than 1% in 1951. But, after the inclusion of a
stretch of territory from Bihar in 1956, religious composition was totally changed. The share of
Muslim population jumped to 39.41% and consequently the share of Hindus come down to
59.87% in the 1961 census. Continuous Hindu immigration from East Pakistan and Bangladesh
during 1951-1991 has increased the share of Hindu population significantly. On the other hand,
high growth of Muslim population during the last three decades (1971-2001) also indicates
Bangladeshi Muslim infiltration in the district. After bifurcation of West Dinajpur, the share of
Muslim population of Uttar Dinajpur jumped from 35.79% in 1981 to 45.35% in 1991. Only in
the last decade (1991-2001), it had risen to 47.36%, and the share of Hindu population had come
down to 51.72% (2.5% lower than in 1991). On the other hand, the share of Hindu and Muslim
population in Dakshin Dinajpur as 74.01% and 24.02% respectively in 2001.
Block-level population growth, religion-wise, gives us a revealing picture regarding Muslim
infiltration from Bangladesh into the district. All the Blocks except the headquarters, Raigonj and
Balurghat, of both Uttar and Dakshin Dinajpur districts, witnessed a massive growth of Muslim
population. Special mention is necessary for the Blocks Islampur and Kaliagonj of Uttar
Dinajpur, where a massively negative growth of Hindu population is distinctly visible. Again,
Tapan of Dakshin Dinajpur witnessed an unbelievable 121% growth rate of Muslims and 8.13%
only for Hindus. Consequently, the share of Muslim population shot up from 15.61% to 27.25%,
and that of Hindu population declined from 83.63% to 71.41% in only a decade. This appears to
be mainly due to desertion of the Hindus from the area, particularly Islampur, for want of security
of both their families and properties as a result of religions re-orientation.
Infiltration unabated :
The district under consideration has a long international border with Bangladesh. It has also a
check post at Radhikapur (railway). Katihar-Barsoi-Radhikapur-Dinajpjur railway link is now
working to carry goods from India and Nepal to Bangladesh. There are some other road links
with the border, e.g. Bindol, Samaspur, Malancha, Kaliganga, etc. Barbed wire fencing along the
border is yet to be completed in this district.
Problems of cross-order migration, both permanent and temporary in nature, persist in the area
under local political patronization and support. Apparently, this cross-border immigration of
Muslims from Bangladesh has become a perennial process. The reason in many cases may be
primarily economic, but other possible complicated causes relating to infiltration by Islamic
militants can in no way be underestimated. However, the net effect is that this huge influx of alien
population is creating a fast growing poverty-ridden Muslim enclave in the district.
In Uttar Dinajpur, a Muslim dominated area (specially Islampur sub-division), Bangladeshi
Muslims including Biharis always feel comfortable to settle down. But Bangladeshi Hindu
immigrants are coming mainly due to religious persecution and Intolerance as well insecurity
because of their religious identity. So, in most of the cases, Hindus immigration is permanent in
nature and they prefer to settle in the Hindu dominated areas. A common perception of the
immigrant people is that, it is easy to establish oneself as a citizen by enrolment in the voters’ list,
by acquiring a ration card and some other documents from the Panchayat office or MLA or other
public representatives. Apart from this, one can get job/employment and social security for one’s
families with the help of the locals.
In fact, as a result of the high growth rate of the immigrant Bangladeshi population in the
district, these immigrants have even been occupying the major share of job and trade
opportunities that have been created in the district due to developmental activities. It is
noteworthy that Bangladeshi immigrant labor forces engage themselves at a lower rate of wage
than the local laborers.
Crimes and its consequences :
Organized crimes, particularly, trans-border crimes are common phenomena in the district.
Murder, dacoity, cattle lifting, smuggling, kidnapping, etc. are the major criminal activities
available in the police record. To understand the ground realties, we can take the guage of
criminal offences recorded in the police stations, number of cases tried, number of persons
convicted and number of persons acquitted during 1997-2001.
Trans-border militant activities are going on :
Militant activities in the area are quite significant. The Students Islamic Movement of India
(SIMI) and Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan (ISI) are operating surreptitiously. Other
groups such as Kamatapur Liberation Organization (KLO), Maoist Communist Centre (MCC),
‘Greater Bangladesh Forum’ are also active in the district. It is now an open secret that
Bangladesh is supporting all these forces by giving shelter and monetary help. Open unfenced
borders of Goalpukur, Daspara and Chakulia blocks are very conducive to communications by the
militants and smugglers with Bangladesh. Madrassahs on either side of the border are also giving
temporary shelters to them. Taking these opportunities, they can disperse themselves to other
areas in the State as well as country. Militant activities are found to be concentrated in nongovernment
(active) Madrassahs. Police and local administration are indifferent to most of the
cases. BSF vigilance in the border line has become ineffective due to non-availability of barbedwire-
fencing on the one hand and virtual non-cooperation of the local people on the other. All
these factors taken together pose a real threat to our internal/external security.
Politics of vote bank ignoring social harmony :
Political outfits of the region are active in furthering their own party interest, but not national
interest. Slogans of peace and amity among the communities get priority only at the level of
propaganda by political parties, but not in practice. Social organizations are too weak to platy
their role in maintaining peace and harmony among the different communities. On the other hand,
organized smugglers and criminals in the district are an important factor in politics and society.
Most of the political leaders depend on them for money. Uttar Dinajpur district is soon going to
be a Muslim majority district. Because of a massive Muslim presence in the district, the idea of a
Muslim vote bank is gradually gaining ground among the political leaders. Some important facts
have emerged from the answer of the respondents regarding ground realities of Hindu-Muslim
(a) It is seen that Muslim dominated areas are not safe for other religious communities.
(b) Islamic faith always preaches intolerance to other religious faiths. Madrassah teaching is
one of the oldest institutional mechanisms to preach intolerance to other religions among
(c) Muslims are always trying to consolidate their position in the border areas as well as
Muslim dominated areas in the district, ousting other religious communities. They are
expanding their settlements in the non-Muslim areas also.
(d) It is significant to note that a good number of mosques and madrassahs (private) have
come up within the last decade in the district.
(e) Moulvis/Maolanas are urging upon Muslims to increase their population by infiltration
from Bangladesh and Bihar, by abstention from birth control, by conversion, and by
having more than one wife, as permitted in the Shariat.
(f) Most of the enlightened Muslims are of the opinion that independent India is not a
permanent arrangement, and that the present state structure too is not adequate for the
welfare of the people. The United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), Kamtapur People’s
Party (KPP), Gorkhaland and organization of the like are struggling for a new system of
States that will bring peace and harmony in India. A good number of leaders from the
Muslim community are also not unhappy about the emergence of such divisive forces.
They feel that, at the appropriate opportunity, they can also fulfill their long-cherished
desire of having a unique world of their own.
Murshidabad was the capital of the Nawabs of Bengal during the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, till the takeover by the East India Company. Murshidabad also presents a very
interesting demographic profile. It is basically an agricultural district with 87.15% of the
population living in rural areas. It was a Muslim majority district before Partition with a
population share of 56.55% (1941). After partition in 1947, no massive migration of Muslims
from this district to Pakistan is observed. On the other hand, most of them who had migrated to
Pakistan came back again after the Nehru-Liaquat Agreement of 1950. A good number of Hindu
refugee also immigrated in this district from East Pakistan during the 1951-1961 decade. But the
post-1971 scenario of infiltration is quite different growth rates of Muslims during the last three
decades (1971-2001) were 30.95%, 34.17% and 28.35% respectively, as against 19.06%, 19.60%
and 15.82% only for Hindus in the respective decades. It had been possible due to a massive
Muslim infiltration in this district from Bangladesh since 1971. Now the share of Hindu
population in Murshidabad has drastically come down from 44.60% (1951) to 35.92% (2001), i.e.
within span of fifty years. A continuously high growth of Muslim population in this district raised
their share of population from 55.24% (1951) to 63.67% (2001). The growth rate of Muslim
population during 1951-2001 was 294.10%, as against 175.41% for Hindus.
Block-level population growth rates, religion-wise, give us a revealing picture of the entire
district. All the Blocks except Berhampore witnessed a tremendous rage of growth of Muslim
population. At least 10 Blocks out of 25 witnessed the growth rate of Muslims to be more than
double that of Hindus. This appears to be due to a huge massive Bangladeshi influx into the
district, avoiding of birth control by the Muslims, and departure of the Hindus from the area for
want of security of both their families and properties. It is noteworthy that a sizeable number of
Hindus, deserting rural areas, have been settling in the Berhampore town and its outskirt under
the Berhampore Block. In spite of that, the Hindu population growth rate (34.58%) did never
cross the Muslim growth rate (36.50%) in the Berhampore Block, headquarters of the district of
Changing Cultural Scenario:
The mainstream traditional Bengali as well as Indian culture is gradually fading out from the
population in the region, specially among them who had settled in this region by migrating from
East Bengal/East Pakistan. As a result, the elite Bengali Hindu culture, specially comprising
Rabindra Sangeet, Kirtan, etc. are losing their influence in this region. In this context it is worthy
of mention that the cultural alienation between the Bengali Hindus and Bengali Muslims is not
only becoming more and more wide, but is also creating a hiatus between the urban elite and the
rural masses within the Bengali Hindu society itself. In this situation, we can examine the cultural
ethos practiced by the rural masses, especially Muslims and Hindus belonging to the lower
echelon of the society in this region. Religio-cultural activities, organized by the establishment of
temples, mosques, dargas, churches, etc., is a common phenomenon in this sub-continent as well
as in the world. During the last three decades, remarkably, on account of a massive infiltration of
Muslims from Bangladesh, there has been a spurt in the construction of mosques and madrassas
in the district, and a rapid growth of attendant religio-cultural activities in the region. Growth of
the radical Islamic fundamentalists (pro-Taliban) in this region has to be examined in this context.
Embargo (Fatowa) on activities of the Sufi/Baul sect, a religiously liberal section of the Muslim
society, has been imposed by neo-radical Islamists. Even several types of punishment have been
inflicted on them, including physical torture, fine etc. These liberal Muslims who have also been
forcibly restrained from working as daily laborers, opening shops, getting irrigation water,
appointing private tutors, holding congregations on the open field, and even using thoroughfares.
The saddest part of this episode is that they have been debarred from using the common burial
ground. Leftist leaders and activities in this district are also in favour of vigorous attempts to
spread radical Islam among the members of the Sufi/Baul sect. Interestingly, the same thing has
happened in Bangladesh after 1971 under the leadership of Jammaat-e-Islami. It is an obvious
corollary that the Muslim community is gradually consolidating themselves through their religiosocio-
cultural activities with a view to making themselves the major socio-political power in the
State of West Bengal. They are already a recognizable socio-political force in the district of
Murshidabad has a long international border with Bangladesh. Domkal, Lalbag and Jangipur
sub-divisions of the district are naturally separated from Bangladesh by the river Padma. Crossborder
infiltration and unofficial trade, including cattle smuggling, are the major activities in this
area vis-à-vis Bangladesh. Most of the international border with Bangladesh is riverine, and chars
of the river Padma are conductive to smuggling activities.
Lists of some illegal trade and communication routes with Bangladesh are given below to
comprehend the ground realities.
(a) Jalangi to Bajumara Char, Rajshahi, Bangladesh.
(b) Narasinghapur to Mirgonj, Bangladesh.
(c) Sagarpara to Rajshahi Town, Bangladesh.
(d) Singhpara to Iswardighat, Bangladesh.
(e) Kaharpara Char to Lalpur, Bangladesh.
(f) Dhanirampur to Alam’s Char, Bangladesh.
(g) Madhubona to Charuikuri Char, Bangladesh.
(h) Lalgola to Rajshahi
(i) Tetulia to Hosnabad, Bangladesh.
(j) Deghipara to Kagmari Char, Bangladesh.
It is very difficult for the BSF alone to control cross-border movements and smuggling, since
most of the people (90% approx) are associated with this trade, and local administration, i.e.
Panchayet, Police, etc. as well as local political forces are party to it. On the other hand, the BDR
encourages cross-border movements and cattle smuggling with the connivance of Indian locals.
As a result, the relation between the BSF and the locals has become inimical. A lot of
Bangladeshi people are living in charland within Indian territories with the connivance of Indian
Muslims. If the BSF identify any of them as infiltrators and try to push them back to Bangladesh,
the BDR refuses to accept them. Incidents of firing or cross-border clashes between the BDR and
the BSF on the push-back—push-in issue are a regular feature in this area. Apart from this, the
local people always try to justify infiltration, and even protect infiltrators by offering shelter and
identifying tem as their relatives of Indian origin. They also help them to get residential papers
from the local authority.
Crimes and its consequences :
Transborder crime in this district is a major problem. All types of criminal activities, including
murder, dacoity, cattle lifting, kidnapping, smuggling etc. are seen to occur in the areas of
Lalgola, Bhagwangola, Ranitala, Jiagonj, Azimgonj, Jalangi, Domkol, Raninagar and Islampur
of the district of Murshidabad. To understand the ground realities, we can take the gauge of
criminal offences recorded in the police stations, number of cases tried, number of persons
convicted and number of persons acquitted during 1997-2001.
Special characteristics of border subdivisions :
(1) Smugglers and militants including radical Islamists are unitedly playing a vital role in
cattle smuggling from India to Bangladesh.
(2) Militants, disguised as a smugglers, enter into India from across the border.
(3) Major political parties openly appease Muslim to keep their vote-bank intact, and to
get due share from smuggling.
(4) Rivalry between political parties to control smuggling often create social tension and
enmity resulting in incidents of murder and other forms of serious crime.
(5) New dimensions of women trafficking have been unearthed. Girls and young widows
are coming from Bangladesh to be sent to the brothers of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
(6) Hindus are gradually being wiped out from the border villages. Smugglers as well as
locally influential persons are purchasing their properties.
(7) Local administration is controlled by smugglers in most of the class. The BSF is
facing difficulties to tackle the problem of infiltration and smuggling because of (a)
the language problem, (b) protection of infiltrators and smugglers by Panchayets.
(8) Unusually large Muslim infiltration from Bangladesh actually started from 1980
onwards. Most of them have come into India counting upon the help of their relatives
in the district, or expecting other local support. They have acquired ration cards,
enlisted their names in voters’ list, and even managed to get citizenship or
international passport through local patrons.
(9) A large number of local youths in the district have established family ties with the
Bangladeshi people by marrying Bangladeshi girls, specially in the border region.
These marital of family relations are often used to serve many purposes. A permanent
support base and shelter has been created in either side of the border for cross-border
(10) Criminals of either side of the border are unitedly working of push out the Hindus
from the border region.
(11) Big landholders and brick-field owners always engage cheap Bangladeshi labourers,
depriving locals. It is a common phenomenon in the border region of this district. No
organized movement has yet been launched against this practice because major
political parties are its beneficiaries. If any individual or group raise the voice against
it, he or they are punished by the musclemen. The dissenters may even be killed. As a
result, a large number of local labourers migrate to other districts or States every year
for their livelihood, and relation between the locals and outsiders has been becoming
sour day by day.
(12) Smuggling has been taken up as a major employment source by a large number of
people in the border region. Police, BSF and others get due shares on a regular basis.
(13) Islamic fundamentalists are preaching in the mosques and madrassahs that the land of
India owned by Akbar, Shajahan, Serajuddoula, etc. belongs to Muslims, Hindus
occupied it through British help. Now the task of Muslims is to dethrone and demolish
(14) A clear trend of Hindu migration from the Domkal subdivision is observed.
(15) Criminals and smugglers have been elected in the last Panchayat election in this
subdivision (Domkal). The common people had to support them because, otherwise,
their security and livelihood would be threatened.
(16) Police overlooks criminal activities supported by the ruling parties.
(17) Private Madrassahs and Mokatabs are mushrooming in the border areas of Domkal
subdivision. Some of them are directly involved in the radical Islamic movement and
(18) Cows and buffaloes are slaughtered in the open market as ‘hat’ sites all over the
Domkal sub-division. Hindus are shaken by the aggressiveness of Muslim
(19) Fake Indian currencies are disturbed in the border markets by Bangladeshi and local
operators. International Hoondi (Hawala gang) operators are also active in this area.
(20) Kidnapping of Hindu girls by Muslim youths, and smuggling them out to Bangladesh
is a common phenomenon in this area.
District : Nadia
Nadia is situated on both the eastern and western side of the Hooghly river as its southward
journey to the Bay of Bengal. In 1947, Nadia was partitioned and one of its sub-divisions,
Kushtia, was included in East Pakistan. The entire eastern side of the district is now bordering
Bangladesh. Nadia is also known all over the country and abroad for the birth place of Sri
Chaitanya, one of the foremost religious reformers of the country in the fifteenth century. Now,
Mayapur, the birth place of Sri Chaitanya, is famous for the IKSKON Headquarters.
Nadia is basically an agricultural district. A continuously high growth of population has
occurred during the last five decades due to huge immigration from across the border. After
Partition, a large number of Hindu refugees from East Pakistan immigrated to this district, and
this is still continuing in spite of Bangladesh becoming independent in 1971. At the same time,
continuous Muslim infiltration has been going on during the last five decades (1951-2001). Even
most of those Muslims who had migrated to Pakistan after 1947 came back and settled in the
district. During 1951-1961, in spite of a massive Hindu refugee settlement, Muslim population
growth rate (63.16%) surpassed the GRP of Hindus (45.61%). The post-1971 growth rates of
population are also interesting. The growth rate of Muslim population has been continuously
higher than that of Hindu population in this district, viz., 37.11%, 34.50% and 21.90% of
Muslims as against 31.67%, 28.47% and 18.58% of Hindus respectively during the last three
decades (1971-2001). GRP of Muslims was 357% during the last fifty years (1951-2001), as
against 285% for Hindus and their share rose from 22.36% in 1951 to 25.41% in 2001.
Nadia has also a long international border with Bangladesh. Tehatta, Sadar (Krishnagar) and
Ranaghat are the border subdivisions of the district. Cross-border movement / infiltration and
illegal trade (including cattle smuggling) are the major activities in this district vis-à-vis
Bangladesh. Most of the border areas are plain agricultural lands and a small part is riverine. This
is ideal for smuggling activities and illegal immigration/infiltration. Majdia—Darshana rail link is
the only legal Indo-Bangladesh communication route in the district. It is also an old and famous
A long stretch of border is still open. Barbed-wire fencing completed so far has covered more
or less 50% of the area. It is very difficult for the BSF alone to control cross-border movement
and smuggling. For, a large number of people are associated with smuggling, and the local
administration (police), Pachayets as well as political activists are party to it. The role of
administration in maintaining law and order is awful. Cross-border immigration to this district is
primarily permanent in nature. Hindu immigrants are mostly settled in the area of Chakdaha,
Ranaghat I & II and Santipur blocks away from the Bangladesh border. But Muslim immigrants
mostly have preferred to settle in the border Blocks like Karimpur I & II, Tehatta I & II, Chapta,
Krishnogonj, etc. It is also observed, fro the pattern of population growth rate during 1981-1991,
that Muslims tried to settle all over the district.
It is seen from the above table that the Hindu-Muslim relation in India was good before 1971,
according to 20 respondents. But after 1971, the relation has deteriorated. Atrocities on minorities
in Bangladesh during the liberation war in 1971 as well as the post-Mujib period, i.e. from 1975
onwards, has compelled the Hindu minorities to migrate from Bangladesh to India. Bangladeshi
Muslim infiltration in the district has irritated the local Hindus of whom a good number are
former refugees from East Pakistan. When Bangladesh declared Islam as their state religion, the
situation was further aggravated. It is now very difficult for Hindu refugees to tolerate alien
Muslims in their newly built hearth and home. This is the main reason for deterioration in the
relation between Hindus and Muslims after 1971. It is important to mention that a large number
of refugee population has settled in the different regions of this district since 1947. Secondly, the
relation between local Muslims and Hindus refugee has turned from bad to worse in the transition
from the pre-1971 to the post-1971 period. Local-outsider relation deteriorated further. All this
can be explained in the context of Partition. I think, the Partition hangover is still working in the
mind of the Hindus and Muslims, immigrants or not. Tribal-non-tribal relation may also be
explained in this context.
An important micro-level observation, based on a number of incidents is that the Islamic
fundamentalist forces operating in Bangladesh as well as in India are encouraging Muslim
infiltration to reduce pressure of population on Bangladesh, and to expand Islamic influence in
the border region so that the Hindu population living in this area is forced to leave the region out
of fear, particularly in the case of Tehatta Sub-division. They are selling their hearth and home at
throw away prices to the Muslims. It becomes easy, since the district is contiguous to
Murshidabad as well as Bangladesh.
Over and above, the anti-social elements of this border region, hand-in-glove with
Bangladeshi Muslims, are creating a fear psychosis among the Hindu community. Theft, dacoity,
rape and murder of the Hindus are routinely performed. The administrative machinery remains a
silent spectator. Consequently, internal security and social harmony are in peril.
The mosques, madrassas, maktabs have become the centers of militants and anti-Indian
activities. The police administration has become a stooge to the ruling party, and seldom acts. The
Hindus are feeling that they have become aliens in their own country. They are afraid that they
may become refugees again. The entire area seems to be under the control of a foreign agency
like the ISI. The BSF and the customs officials have become puppets to the smugglers. The
criminals are roaming freely in this area with fake currency and illegal arms. These criminals also
played a great role in helping local leaders to capture the Panchayet in the last election. The direct
fallout of this situation is that the party in power does not dare to disturb them for fear of losing
To make our border safe and secure, barbed wire fencing is absolutely necessary. The
waterways should be closely guarded, and the BSF should be properly trained and motivated in
this respect by infusing a sense of nationalism among them. Otherwise, the situation in this region
will be worse than in Kashmir.
District : 24-Parganas
North 24-Parganas is the second largest district of India and West Bengal in terms of
population. It is situated on the northern flank of Kolkata, and on the eastern bank of the Hooghly
river. It is a very important district in terms of industry, trade and commerce. North 24-Parganas
is also bordering Bangladesh. Before 1981, North 24-Pargnanas was part of undivided 24-
Parganas. The vast post-Partition Hindu refugee inflow from East Pakistan to 24-Parganas had
increased its population remarkably. During the last five decades (1951-2001), a continuously
high growth rate of Hindu population in this district is clearly observed. (Growth rates of
population in 1951-1961 and 1961-1971 are based on undivided 23-Parganas data). On the other
hand, a high growth rate of Muslim population during the last five decades has also been evident.
The 1981-1991 decade witnessed a massive growth rate of Muslim population, viz. 41.47%. This
obviously is due to Muslims infiltration from Bangladesh. Consequently, the share of Muslim
population rose from 22.43% (1971) to 24.22% (2001) within three decades, in spite of a massive
Hindu immigration from Bangladesh during the same period. It will be more revealing if we go
through the Block-level demographic changes. It needs a special mention that a large number of
Muslims who had migrated to East Pakistan after Partition came back to this district not only
during 1951-1971 but also after 1971, and this remains a persistent trend till today. Another
important feature that needs mention in this connection is the continuous in-flow of Urduspeaking
Muslims from Bangladesh after 1971.
Block-level population growth, religion-wise, gives us a revealing picture regarding the
growth of Muslim population in different Blocks of the district. In all the rural Blocks, except
four, Muslim population growth rate is significantly higher than that of Hindus, particularly in the
region or Blocks bordering Bangladesh, viz. Basirhat I & II, Hasnabad, Hingalgonj, Sandeshkhali
I & II, Swarupnagar, Minakhan, Baduria, Habra I & II and Deganga,, which have witnessed a
massive growth of Muslim population. On the other hand, there is a decline of Muslim
population. On the other hand, there is a decline of Muslim population in the newly developed
urban zones like Barasat I & II (district headquarter), Rajarhat and Barrackpore I & II Blocks
where a massive growth of Hindu population has taken place. Fast growing middleclass (both
upper and lower) Hindus are rushing to these areas, including a good number of Bangladeshi
Hindu immigrants. It is noteworthy that massive infiltration from Bangladesh (of both Hindus and
Muslims) has increased the population of this district significantly since 1971.
North 24 Parganas has a long international border. Basirhat and Bongaon subdivisions are
bordering Bangladesh. Cross-border infiltration and smuggling, including cattle smuggling, transborder
crimes, etc. are the major illegal activities in this area vis-à-vis Bangladesh. Two border
check-posts (one international) for trade and passengers are also situated in this district at
Petrapole (Bongaon) and Ghojadanga. Most of the border region is plain land. Cross-border
movement is very easy for smugglers and infiltrators. It is very difficult for the BSF to control
cross-border movement and smuggling. A large segment of border population is associated with
this illegal trade and other unlawful activities. Local administration (Panchayet, police), as well as
local political forces are entangled in these activities.
Transborder crime in the district is a major problem. All types of criminal activities, including
murder, dacoity, cattle lifting, kidnapping, offences against women, smuggling, etc. are seen to
occur in the entire border region of Basirhat, Bangaon and Barasat Subdivisions. The life in a
border village is chaotic, to say the least. It is extremely unhealthy in terms of law and order. The
entire border area is the abode of transborder crimes. The border areas are the perennial targets of,
for example, illegal transborder movements of people, theft and smuggling of cows, other
contraband articles (supplied to and from Bangladesh), robbery by Bangladeshi intruders, women
In any Muslim dominated village, Hindus live in a state of virtual subjugation. Many of such
Hindus, called Sarbahara, had previously been driven out of their own homes from Bangladesh.
These ill-fated Hindus settled in the border villages of West Bengal and accepted India as their
own country. How they are on the verge of being driven out, for the second time, from their new
settlement, and compelled to move elsewhere, away from the border. Many have already
abandoned their new homes. The Hindu families in the border areas are subjected to frequent
harassment by the Bangladeshi Muslim intruders who work hand in glove with a section of local
Muslims and others. Theft of cows, robbery, assault on women in the Hindu families by the
Muslim miscreants, are regular features in the border villages. On the other hand, the forceful
imposition of the Muslim culture—the Muslim way of life in these border villages—has forced
the Hindu families to feel alienated in the society. To understand the ground realities and role of
the administration (police, etc.), we can take the gauge of criminal offences recorded in the police
stations of the district being 1997-2001. Though a large number of cases were not recorded in the
police stations because of political interference, the available record is alarming enough.
It is seen from the primary data that 55 respondents have expressed their opinions. These have
been gathered from people belonging to different walks of life. They have spoken about relation
amount the different communities in the district before and after 1971. Hindu-Muslim relation in
West Bengal always gets importance because of their relative population strength and historical
legacy. More than one third (19) of the total respondents (55) have opined that it was bad before
1971, but 16 and 17 respondents have expressed their opinion in favor of good and moderately
good relations respectively. Thus, Hindu-Muslim relation was not quite good before 1971. But
after 1971, 27 respondents (i.e. half) have opined that it is bad, though 20 rate this relation to be
moderately good. But only 4 are in favor of ‘good’, compared to 16 before 1971. It can be said
from the above opinion survey that Hindu-Muslim relation deteriorated further after 1971. Post-
1971 atrocities on minorities in Bangladesh and Hindu immigration from Bangladesh into India
are the major causes of deteriorating Hindu-Muslim relations in the district. Declaration of Islam
as state religion in Bangladesh is also a major factor for worsening relation. On the other hand,
local-outsider relations improved after 1971, i.e. the Hindu community was welcoming Hindu
immigrants, and the Muslim community was welcoming Muslim immigrants in their respective
The above noted facts and the attendant analyses make it quite clear that, on account of
ceaseless infiltration from Bangladesh and East Pakistan, and the tremendously high rate of
growth of Muslim population, West Bengal, with 904 persons per square kilometer, has emerged
as the State having the highest density of population in the whole of India. West Bengal occupies
2.77% of India’s land area and accommodates more than eight percent of its population.
Population control is universally recognized today as a key contributor to economic upliftment. A
pertinent query is whether the excessively high rate of growth of Muslim population in all the
districts of West Bengal is solely due to infiltration by Bangladeshis. Alternatively, one can ask
whether it is permissible to affirm that Muslims in West Bengal are far less concerned about birth
control, and far more backward in family planning than Hindus in West Bengal. If we consider
the family planning scenario in the State, we can conclude that both the factors have been
responsible for this abnormally high growth rate of Muslims in West Bengal.
There is another side of this story, which is no less disturbing and no less dangerous. This
ceaseless increase of population through infiltration and other means assumes a new dimension
when it slowly and steadily takes the shape of a sort of demographic invasion. The consequent
socio-political disturbances can possibly destabilize the entire Eastern and North-Eastern region
of India. Even if this is treated as ‘distress infiltration’ or ‘economic immigration’, it finally turns
out to be volcanic enough to bring about the disintegration of the country. Added to it, an
incessant cross-border immigration from Bangladesh deep into the regions bordering the Indian
side, along with large scale cross-border smuggling have created a political climate highly
favorable to the growth of an anti-Indian psyche. This is inevitable, following a tremendous
transformation of the demographic composition of the society from Koch Bihar, to the southern
trip of South 24-Parganas. Consequently, the prevailing practice and conditions of living of the
people on the Indian side are becoming uncertain. The political and administrative security
arrangements of the border region are so hopelessly threatened as to become ineffectual.
Besides, both sides of the border are inhabited by a population which is ethnically,
linguistically and religiously identical. It has thus become easy for the insurgent outfits to wage a
proxy war at a low level. The costs and risks of this war are low, and yet it destabilizes the
security of eastern and north-eastern India.
Last but not the least, it is a matter of vital concern that the Union and the State Governments
may or may not share fully the perspective portrayed above and/or adopt necessary measures to
safeguard national security. As a result, alien socio-political forces can consolidate their position
at the social and popular level, and gather more and more courage to accelerate their activities.
Gradually, and ominously, this can foster the evolution of a pattern of social living alien to the
Indian ethos nurtured through centuries of foreign rule and also the decades following 1947.