Skip to main content

BJP plans to weed out 'foreigners' across India amidst utter chaos over NRC in Assam

By Nava Thakuria*
As the Union government has decided to screen of all “illegal” migrants who are allegedly taking shelter in the country by seeking to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in order to create a nationwide database of “genuine” Inidan citizens, even as detecting “illegal” foreigners, one can apprehend more chaos and confusion across India in the days to come.
Slowly but steadily the demand for NRC updation on the lines of Assam is gaining momentum. Hardline nationalist politicians from various states, mostly ruled by Hindu-centric Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), have come out openly in favour of updating NRC, leading Union home minister Amit Shah to declare that the Government of India would introduce NRC across the country.
Even President Ram Nath Kovind in one of his addresses in Parliament said that New Delhi was “aware” of the security threat because of illegal infiltrators and hence the Centre has shown interest in implementing NRC across India, so that “illegal” foreigners could be identified and taken appropriate actions under the law.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s wish for a countrywide NRC updation has been supported by BJP leaders from Karnataka, Tripura, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh etc. The BJP ruled State government in Bangalore recently initiated discussions with New Delhi aiming to upgrade NRC in the Karnataka so that it could prevent “criminal activities” allegedly orchestrated by unauthorized individuals.
In West Bengal, though the state government headed by Mamata Banerjee vehemently opposes the NRC updating process, the Centre continues pursuing the same across the country. The Trinamool Congress chief is understood to stand firmly against NRC, even as her opponents say, she is doing it to safeguard her vote banks with the Muslim settlers from Bangladesh.
However, the chaos and confusion over NRC updation in Assam is evident. The recently-concluded massive NRC updating process has put Assam on the international map after over 1.9 million people were excluded from the final list of NRC as recognized citizens in the state. Comprising mostly Bengali-speaking Muslim and Hindu nationals, those excluded individuals have now to wait for the verdict of foreigner's tribunals and subsequent higher court orders.
The “purpose” of updating NRC is primarily claimed to be to prepare a list of “authentic” Indian citizens. The hectic process in Assam was indirectly meant for identifying “illegal” migrants residing here since March 25, 1971. It was mandatory for every resident of Assam to apply for including their names in the updated NRC.
Directed and monitored by the Supreme Court, the process witnessed the participation of 3,30,27,661 applicants. The process of receiving NRC application forms, following the apex court order in 2013, started in May 2015 and ended on August 31, 2015. All applications were scrutinized by over 50,000 Assam government employees, supported by over 7,000 data entry operators, for all these years and they took the decisions for inclusion and exclusion of individuals as statutory officers.
The individuals, who (or their descendants) appear in the 1951 NRC, voters’ lists or other relevant government documents issued prior to the midnight of March 24, 1971 were recognized for inclusion. The prescribed cut-off date (March 25, 1971) was taken from the Assam Accord, which was signed in 1985 by the Centre with the leaders of six years long anti-foreigners Assam movement in presence of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
The accord reposed responsibility on the government to detect and deport all migrants (those who supposed to be East Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals), who entered Assam after the cut-off date. After two drafts of NRC, the final one was released on August 31, as the apex court denied any more time for re-verification of the list.
Both the governments in New Delhi and Dispur wanted re-verification in some selected localities as it was apprehended that many illegal migrants had enrolled their names in the up-to-date list with fake documents. The final NRC thus excludes 19,06,657 people, most of whom maybe declared as foreigners.
However, as final NRC was made public, only a few outfits found it satisfactory, whereas most of the mainstream organizations expressed dissatisfaction alleging errors in the exclusion of indigenous families and inclusion of illegal foreigners.
The All-India United Democratic Front, the Communist Party of India and a few others came out in support of the Assam NRC, arguing that the updated NRC is an outcome of intensive labour hours and should be considered as a first step to solve the illegal migrants’ issue in Assam.
However, strong voice of dissatisfaction was raised by the Assam Public Works (APW), which filed a writ petition in the apex court appealing for revision of voters’ list with the aim to remove the illegal migrants’ names. 
Relevant census reports are being quoted to assert that major influx of foreigners into Assam in post-1971 period is not supported by any government data
APW chief Abhijit Sarma commented that the present form of NRC would only help the illegal migrants (read Bangladeshi nationals) to get their names enrolled. He asserted that the complete re-verification of NRC becomes the need of the hour to safeguard the future of Assamese people from the invasion of Bangladeshi settlers in Assam for decades.
The ruling BJP has declared that it would go to the apex court with the appeal for reviewing NRC. BJP leader and state minister Himanta Biswa Sarma commented that as many “genuine Indians” are being left out in NRC, they do not agree with the outcome. The saffron party’s regional ally Asom Gana Parishad also came out with the statement that the final NRC could not bring relief to the indigenous population of Assam.
RSS, which is the ideologue of ruling BJP, said that no Hindu (along with Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Christian) families should face expulsion from the country. The answer to such initiatives would be driven by the citizenship amendment bill, which is expected to be tabled and passed in both the Houses of Parliament for safeguarding their political interests.
Even the All-Assam Students’ Union, which initiated the anti-foreigners Assam movement in the 1980s, expressed dismay over the final NRC. Similarly, Muslim Kalyan Parishad and Asom Garia-Maria Yuba Chhatra Parishad claimed that the final NRC is not acceptable to them as it contains huge anomalies. Commenting that the indigenous people are not happy with the final NRC, they have demanded its re-verification.
Assam's anti-influx group Prabajan Virodhi Mancha (PVM) also termed the process of screening citizenship as faulty. PVM convener and a senior advocate Upamanyu Hazarika demanded that the cut-off year for identifying foreigners in the state should be changed to 1951 as like any other parts of India. He urged the people of Assam to support the initiative to review the cut-off year (1971) as prescribed in the Assam Accord.
Asom Sanmilita Mahasangha, an umbrella organization of several indigenous ethnic groups, meanwhile, continues to demand 1951 as the base year for determining citizenship and it has already approached the apex court with their arguments. Expressing apprehensions that hundred thousand Bangladeshi migrants, who entered Assam prior to 1971, might have enrolled their names in the list, the forum commented that the present form of NRC cannot be the final list of bonafide Indian nationals.
Even a New Delhi based rights group came out with a statement that Assam witnessed a massive influx of Bangladeshi (formerly East Pakistan) nationals prior to 1971 and no such noticeable influx of foreigners took place in the post-1971 period. Quoting relevant census reports, Rights and Risks Analysis Group director Suhas Chakma asserted that major influx of foreigners into Assam in the post-1971 period is not supported by any government statistics.
---
*Northeast India based political commentator

Comments

The Real Gems said…
yes, we totally agree with this concept of NRC because the National Register of Citizens is the register which contains the names of the Indian citizens. At present, Assam is the only state having such a Register.and after that the govt. of India applied this concept to whole Indian citizens.

TRENDING

Ganga world's second most polluted river, Modi's Varanasi tops microplastics pollution

By Rajiv Shah  Will the new report by well-known elite NGO Toxics Link create a ripple in the powerful corridors of Delhi? Titled “Quantitative analysis of microplastics along River Ganga”, forwarded to Counterview, doesn’t just say that Ganga is the second most polluted river in the world, next only to Yangtze (China). It goes ahead to do a comparison of microplastics pollution in three cities shows Varanasi – the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – is more polluted compared to Kanpur and Haridwar.

How real is Mamata challenge to Modi? Preparing for 2024 'khela hobey' moment

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  Third time elected West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee is on a whirlwind tour of Delhi, meeting everyone who matters within and beyond the government, the Prime Minister, the President, some Cabinet ministers, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, several other opposition leaders, et al.

Did Modi promote Dholavira, a UNESCO site now, as Gujarat CM? Facts don't tally

By Rajiv Shah  As would generally happen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet – that not only was he “absolutely delighted” with the news of UNESCO tag to Dholavira, but he “ first visited ” the site during his “student days and was mesmerised by the place” – is being doubted by his detractors. None of the two tweets, strangely, even recalls once that it’s a Harappan site in Gujarat.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

If not Modi, then who? Why? I (an ordinary citizen) am there! Main hoon naa!

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The number of women ministers is doubled in early July from the first term after cabinet reshuffle by the present government led by Narendra Modi. While there were 06 women ministers in the previous term, this term there are 11. The previous two governments led by Dr Manmohan Singh had 10 women ministers in each tenure. Are these number of women ministers something to rejoice in the near 75 years of independence? Yes maybe, if we think that things are slowly improving in the patriarchal system. This change is less likely to achieve gender balance in the parliament otherwise we require more than 11 as per the 33% reservation . This change is also less likely because the men politicians’ inability to handle the country’s mess is becoming more and more evident and especially during the corona crisis. Seems, the addition of more women ministers may be a result of the recent assembly elections where women played a decisive role in the election results. For example

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

UP arrest of 'terrorists': Diverting attention from Covid goof-up, Ram temple land scam?

By Advocate Mohammad Shoaib, Sandeep Pandey* That corruption is rampant in police department is a common experience. However, there is another form of corruption which devastates lives of individuals and their families. It has now emerged as a common phenomenon that police more often than not register false cases because of which individuals have to spend number of years in jail.

Giant conglomerates 'favoured': Whither tribal rights for jal-jungle-jameen?

Prafull Samantara By Mohammad Irshad Ansari*  The struggle for “Jal, Jungle and Jameen” has been a long-drawn battle for the tribal communities of India. This tussle was once again in the limelight with the proposed diamond mining in the Buxwaha forest of Chhatarpur (Madhya Pradesh). The only difference in this movement was the massive social media support it gained, which actually seems to tilt the scale for the tribal people in a long time.

Effluent discharge into deep sea? Modi told to 'reconsider' Rs 2275 crore Gujarat project

Counterview Desk  In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, well-known Gujarat-based environmentalist, Mahesh Pandya of the Paryavaran Mitra, has protested against the manner in with the Gujarat government is continuing with its deep sea effluent disposal project despite environmental concerns.

Khorigaon demolition: People being 'brutally' evicted, cops 'restricting' food, water

By Ishita Chatterjee, Neelesh Kumar, Manju Menon, Vimal Bhai* On July 23, the Faridabad Municipal Corporation told the Supreme Court that they have cleared 74 acres out of 150 acres. Despite the affidavit of the Municipal Corporation, the court, on the complaint of various litigants, that the arrangements for living, food etc. have not been made for the people.