NRC has opened Pandora’s Box in Assam

INDIA’s first National Registrar of Citizens for Assam after  updating  has literally opened a Pandora’s box after six per cent of the residents of the north-eastern state including indigenous people left out of the NRC list. Even its champions ruling BJP, All Assam Students’ Union and Asom Gana Parishad are not only dissatisfied with its revision but also baffled. Amid accusation of accepting cloned legacy data and other  questionable documentations by the concerned authorities as  the  authentic  evidence of  Indian citizenship, the Chief Coordinator  is being dragged to court for alleged manipulation in preparing the NRC list by the staff under him. It is alleged that many genuine Indians were excluded from the list “due to some inefficient employees and conspiracy”, said All India Legal Aid Foundation Member Chandan Mazumdar.He has lodged a complaint against Prateek Hajela at Dibrugarh police station, Northeast Now reported. He told the website that he had been excluded from the list despite submitting all necessary documents, including those related to his family recorded in the 1951 NRC to prove his citizenship. “I am a bonafide citizen and my parents settled at Dibrugarh in 1947,” Mazumder said. “But still my name has been excluded from the NRC’s final list. I am very much disappointed with the NRC. I am shocked that even after applying with all the documents my name was not included in the final list, ”he alleged .First information reports have been lodged in Guwahati and Dibrugarh against Coordinator Prateek Hajela for allegedly excluding Indians from the updated citizens’ list deliberately, The Hindu reported on Wednesday. The Asom Garia-Maria Yuba Chhatra Parishad lodged the first complaint on September 3 at Guwahati’s Latasil police station, accusing Hajela of producing an expensive “farcical” document that left out many indigenous people. The Garia and the Maria are two categories of indigenous Assamese Muslims. Many political parties, the ruling BJP and the principal  Opposition have criticized the NRC saying  t that many Bengali Hindus have been left out of the register. Bengali Hindus are the BJP’s oldest vote bank in the state. State Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said the state government will approach the Supreme Court again for a reverification process in the National Register of Citizens in two districts on a pilot basis to address flaws in the database.

Incidentally, the  people of Assam, India’s north-eastern state, are among the worst impacted after division of then undivided country in the absence of restriction on the movement of persons from India to Pakistan or vice versa till July 19, 1948.Thanks to Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi (1890 -1950 ), Assam’s first Chief Minister, e, for frustrating the attempts by his some influential party’s leaders to merge the  state  with  erstwhile  East Pakistan  now  called  Bangladesh.Notwithsanding, the first ever National Register of Citizens  formulated in  1951 on the basis of  the 1951 Census Report,  influx of people  through  the  almost porous  262 km – Assam-Bangladesh  border continued due to varied factors changing  socio-economic  and demographic structure. Genuine Assamese felt threatened as jobs, lands and their assets are at stake culminating in the first organized agitation across the neglected state in 1979 against foreigners demanding their detection, disenfranchisement,  deportation apart from  updating the irrelevant NRC on basis  the Electoral Rolls up to midnight of 24 March 1971 or in any one of the other admissible documents issued up to midnight of 24 March 1971 proving  their presence in any part of India on or before 24 March 1971.But why  publication of the final NRC has become  nobody’s baby leaving out   19 lakh plus  residents, mostly Hindu  Bongs, of the NRC?  Major political parties including the ruling BJP and principal opposition INC obviously remain discontented fearing   backlash of the aggrieved people and their lobbies. As Indian Minister for External Affairs in responding to a query by his worried Bangladesh counterpart said” if there is any Bangladeshi in Assam they might have gone before 1947 or before 1971. So they have been living there for years. We don’t think they are Bangladeshis. “There is no reason why a Bangladeshi should move to India. Bangladesh is doing much better on economic front and therefore it does not look like no Bangladeshi will to go to India for living. The per capita income is comparatively higher in Bangladesh than the cost of living. There is no possibility of moving to India,” the minister also said. Will his admission will be appreciated by ant-Bangladeshi lobby?  While the BJP demanded a national-level NRC to solve the foreigners’ problems, opposition Congress party accused the BJP of trying to keep the issue of illegal immigrants alive. “We are totally disappointed. With the NRC that has been published on August 31, 2019. The social, political, economic and cultural rights of the Indian citizens of Assam will not be secured in the coming days… On behalf of the State BJP we appeal to the Central government to Start   NRC across the entire country in the interest of Indian citizens,” State BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass said. If necessary, amendments and new laws will be brought to ensure protection of the people who came to the State before the cutoff date of March 25, 1971.Former Chief Minister late Hiteswar Saikia had gone public in early 1990s saying that there are 30 lakh illegal immigrants in Assam, while Sriprakash Jaiswal, then Union Minister of State for Home during the UPA regime, had said that 50 lakh Bangladeshis are in the State. “Now what we have got is a figure of 19.06 lakh excluded from the NRC. So how can we say that we are satisfied? Many indigenous people have been left out. Their number will not be less than two lakh,” Dass said. He alleged that the NRC authorities failed to take into account migration certificates, refugee certificates and such documents. Who will answer  as to  why lakhs of displaced persons were compelled  to leave their  motherland and  take  shelter in the north-eastern India  as the Bangladesh  declaring  those aggrieved people  under the NRC are not the country’s citizens and hence there is no question of allowing them to come to Bangladesh? It is indeed a ticklish issue as India cannot throw out the 19 lakh people on humanitarian and legal grounds. Enactment of Citizenship (Amendment) Act by Parliament committing citizenship to Hindus, Christians , Buddhists, Jains , Sikhs ,Parses and  other minorities compelled to  leave  Afghanistan, Bangladesh and  Pakistan seems to be the  way out of the vexed  pan India problem.  (with image courtesy to  dnaindia.com)

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