Atmosphere of fear looms as 1 Lakh name dropped from draft NRC

People wait to have their names checked on the Assam NRC final draft. Credit: Reuters

Sikandar Azam

Once again, 102,462 people have to prove their citizenship credential in Assam as per the newly released National Register of Citizenship (NRC) draft. For poor common people, it is very difficult to waste entire day for the same work. The prime question is why enough scrutiny was not done by officials at the first time so that people may not waste their valuable times again by visiting government offices? Second, exclusion of 1 Lakh names from the NRC once again will disturb the peace and stability of Assam. The exclusion of people in such a large number has led to criticism of the NRC exercise. An atmosphere of fear prevails among the people that they might become stateless if their names were not included in the list.

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The National Register of Citizenship (NRC) began in Assam for the simple reason to record genuine citizens of India and identify infiltrators from Bangladesh. Bangladesh shares nearly 262 kilometers boundary with Assam. In the past Assam had witnessed six-year long violent agitation against the illegal migrants in 1980. Therefore the entire process of NRC began to solve the problem. On 31 December, 2017 when the part Draft of NRC was published it included only 1,90,10,932 members, out of the 3.29 crore applicants.  The second list, that was referred as the Complete Draft, was published on 30 July, 2018 and included 2,89,83,677 members. It left out another 40, 70,707 people out of the list.  Although it was not the final draft, and people were assured that who were not included in the complete draft will be been given fair chance to file their claims. There was expectation among the people that the number of people that have not been included will become the part of NRC in the final list. Contrary to that in the latest Draft NRC published this month, 102,462 people dropped from the list. Now they have to prove their citizenship credential once again. This is a matter of concern for those who spent time and energy while submitting their papers and documents.

Earlier, when the NRC data was released protest and unrest had engulfed the entire region. Assam had been on the boil for weeks ever since the Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016. Most of the regional parties had opposed the bill. Protests, strikes, meetings of political parties and civil societies were organized in different part of the region to oppose and reject the bill. This had disturbs the normal lives of the people.

Why would a country waste days and weeks on such issues which require pre-consultation with the parties involved in the matter. Perhaps people of Assam feel that the new provision in the Citizenship Bill 2019 ignores the Assam Accord that was signed on 15th August, 1985 which had brought an end to the agitation in the state. Perhaps, pre-consultation with the regional parties could have saved time, money and energy of thousands of the people involved in this opposition process of the bill. Ministers of these states would have utilized their valuable times on other issues which are more relevant to the younger generation of this country. Second, what will be the fate of those people whose names were excluded? Who will prove that they are Bangladeshi in case Bangladesh doesn’t accept them? Keeping this scenario in mind it is very important that the government must prepare a roadmap for them before deciding the fate of such a large number of people living for decades in Assam. Safety and security of the country is very important for New Delhi but saving North East in general and Assam in particular must be the priority of the government.

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