The over-the-top anguish and Islamophilia expressed by Karan Thapar in “Azmal Hoque is a human being, not a statistic” (October 9) is perplexing. Is it the author’s point that suspected criminals, foreign enemies and spies must not at any cost be inconvenienced by mundane things such as the law of the land if they happen to belong to the minority community, especially Muslim? Verification of citizenship is a routine affair in Northeast irrespective of a resident’s caste or creed, and no one takes offence to it except the bleeding hearts desperately seeking cases of discrimination against and targeting of minorities.
Illegal immigration from Bangladesh is a protracted problem in the region, over which India had to go to war with Pakistan in 1971. That illegal infiltration continues today is a fact of life. Thanks to the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, 1983, it became well-nigh impossible to deport any immigrant. The court, while repealing the Act in 2005, observed that only half of the suspected immigrants could be deported during the period when the Act was in operation. The issue evokes strong emotions among the local population and is a cause of social tension in all of Northeast as competition for limited resources intensifies due to the huge influx from across the porous border. Even the proposed automatic citizenship to Hindus fleeing persecution in Bangladesh is being resented by locals and the issue has been hanging fire for quite some time. Thus, Muslims are not being singled out for victimisation as Thapar seems to suggest.
Too much is being made out of the fact of Hoque being a former army man, who served India for 30 years. In a country where arrest warrants could be obtained against the President and Chief Justice of India by paying suitable amount to the magistrate concerned, is it impossible that a person establishes his bona fides by procuring forged papers, that too in a state struggling to keep record of its citizens? And, is it so very wrong to merely ask a resident to prove his/her citizenship in a state dealing with a huge illegal immigrant population?
Ajay Tyagi Guwahati