अतिथि देवो भव: लेकिन कब तक?

Let me ask a question before starting me “Suppose that a troubled person who is facing many difficulties comes to you and is requesting you to shelter him for some time in your house, if you are kindhearted you will help him, but what would happen if the same person slowly take possession of your house and resources and later on refuse to leave your house then what will you do? I am sure you will do your best to get him out of your house.

On 30th, July 2018 final draft of the National Register of Citizenship of India (NRC) in Assam was released.  Actually, NRC is the list which contains the names of those people of Assam who were able to provide the proof of their citizenship as an Indian citizen. This is the 2nd and final draft of the NRC which determines the citizenship status of nearly 1.39 crore people of the state. Before that, in its draft which was published on 1st, January 2018 1.9 crores out of 3.29 crore, applicants were able to prove themselves as  Indian citizens. 40 Lakh residents of Assam do not have their name in the final draft of the list as they are not able to provide enough proofs to prove their citizenship. This mammoth list is prepared after the directions of Hon’ble Supreme court Of India in 2013. It took around 3 years of time by the 52000 government employees of the Assam.

What is this NRC and Why it is needed

National Register of Citizenship is a register containing names of all genuine Indian citizens. The register was first prepared in Assam during the conduct of 1951, Census of India following the wave of illegal immigrants from then East Pakistan.  Northeastern states like Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, and Tripura has this issue of illegal immigration from a long time because these states share their border with Bangladesh and from there many illegal immigrants enter into India and got settled in these states. the majority of these illegal migrants are from Bangladesh and presently the population of these immigrants increases in these state up to that extent that local people of these states are fearful that gradually these immigrants from Bangladesh become the majority and the local people of the states becomes the minority. Therefore, this issue of illegal migrants has always been a very serious and sensitive issue in the Northeastern States.

We can see that the aforementioned states share their border with Bangladesh.

The major reasons for this immigration from Bangladesh is; 1st, Bangladeshi thinks that India would be a better place then their country to live in and secondly due to the atrocities were done by generals of West Pakistan(present-day Pakistan) during 1971. Due to this large migration, the population of NorthEast increases abnormally as compared to the area of it. The population of NorthEast was only 44 lakh when the population of then India was 29 crores as per the census of 1901. Now if we see the consolidated population count of modern-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as per 2011 is 156 crore whereas at the same time the population of NorthEast becomes 450lakhs.

So the point what I want to make here is the population of the NorthEast becomes 10 folds whereas in the same time duration population of the 3 nations increased by 5.4 times. Now you can understand from these statistics that how much illegal immigrants enter into the NorthEast states. Due to this spike in the population, the pressure on the limited resources is increased and it also results in the ethnic clashes. This problem of migrants is not got arisen in 2018 itself it was started with the partition of India. If we look at 1951 at that time when Pakistan was just come on the world map that time also due to riots and partition Assam initially saw an influx of refugees and other migrants from East Pakistan. The number of such migrants other than refugees was initially reported by the State Government to be between 1,50,000 and 2,00,000 but later estimated to be around 5,00,000. Considering the seriousness of the influx Government of India went on to formulate the Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950, and to identify illegal immigrants, the NRC was prepared under the purview of the Foreigners Act 1946, for the first time in Assam during the conduct of 1951 Census.

So in simple terms, NRC is the list which is created to have the count of indigenous people of the state Assam. So that if in future when India wants to deport the illegal immigrants then it is easy to identify them.

Why it is getting updated in Assam in 2018?

After the creation of  NRC in 1951, people were thinking that this would get used and will help in preserving the local culture and communities but it was never used. Instead, migration had taken place on large scale between 1948 and 1971. Due to this student leaders in 1979 came out in the fierce protest demanding detention, disenfranchisement, and deportation of illegal immigrants from Assam. The historic movement which came to be known as Assam Agitation or Assam Movement was initiated by All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) and lasted a span of 6 years. This movement comes to an end after the signing of historic MoS between Central and State Government and   All Assam Students’ Union (AASU),  on 15th August 1985 called the Assam accord.  So, as per the accord, many clauses were introduced to be implemented to curb the illegal immigration issue based on below points.

  • All those foreigners who have entered in Assam between 1951 to 1961 were to be given full citizenship, including the right to vote.
  • Those who have entered from 1961 to 1971 were to deny the voting rights for 10 years but would enjoy all other rights of citizenship.
  • Those who had come on or after 25th March 1971 will continue to be detected, deleted and expelled in accordance with law.

Though how the accord was signed in 1985 but due to various political reasons, the process of implementing its clauses was never taken place. Then again in 2005 during the UPA government due to the immense pressure announced the that NRC would be updated but again for next 10 year nothing was done in the Assam. Due to this unconcerned behavior of the government, ethnic clashes were started in 2012 between indigenous Bodos and illegal immigrants and more than 70 people died in it and bunch pleas reached the Supreme Court thereafter.

Finally, Hon’ble Supreme Court order Union Government and the State Government to complete the update of NRC in 2013 following the 2 writ petitions by Assam Public Works and Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha & Ors, and the complete process is completed under the monitoring of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

What is in the final draft of NRC and what will happen to those whose names are not in the list

After the order of the Supreme court, The modalities for NRC updates have been developed jointly by the Government of Assam and the Government of India in adherence to these eligibility criteria.

In 2015, a total of 3,29,91,385 residents of Assam had claimed to be the citizen of India by filling the NRC form, out of which as per the latest draft of NRC 2,89,83,668 people of being able to provide sufficient evidence which supports their claim of an Indian citizen. That means 40,07,717 people were not able to get the place in the final draft. These people who don’t have their name in the list are worried and they don’t know about their future whether they will be deported or detained.

But no one need to get panic about this as the home minister of India stated in the Lok Sabha that this is not the final list and everyone who doesn’t have their name in the final draft will be given the full chance to prove their citizenship claim after 28th of August.

But one thing which disappoints me every time is the habit of doing politics on every issue be it the issue of Rohingyas or of the illegal immigrants every time politics is started which is not good for our nation. Few issues should be seen and handled above the party and vote bank politics.

I hope now you get the point behind the question I have asked at the start of the article.