Assam register: Four million risk losing India citizenship

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a list of people who can prove they came to the state by 24 March 1971, a day before neighbouring Bangladesh declared independence.

India says the process is needed to identify illegal Bangladeshi migrants.

But it has sparked fears of a witch hunt against Assam’s ethnic minorities.

Assam register: Four million risk losing India citizenship

Activists say the NRC is now being used as a pretext for a two-pronged attack – by Hindu nationalists and Assamese hardliners – on the state’s Bengali community, a large portion of whom are Muslims.

Like Hasitun, many Bengalis live in the wetlands dotted along the Bramaputra river, moving around when water levels rise. Their paperwork, if it exists, is often inaccurate.

Officials claim illegal Bangladeshis are enmeshed in the Bengali population, often hiding in plain sight with forged papers – and a thorough examination of all documents is the only way to find them.

“They are openly threatening to get rid of Muslims, and what happened to the Rohingya in Myanmar, could happen to us here.”

This is wrong; very wrong. Magnanimity is an important part of any country’s policy and I do think that India is becoming far too draconian about the Muslim Question..

Pakistan’s future lies in solidarity with Turanistan .. I should write in to Imran Bhai and offer to be his foreign policy advisor.

0

46 Replies to “Assam register: Four million risk losing India citizenship”

  1. yeah this is going to be a total clusterfuck. clear a huge number of bengalis of both religions have left east pakistan/bangladesh for india in the post-1947 era.

    Pakistan’s future lies in solidarity with Turanistan .. I should write in to Imran Bhai and offer to be his foreign policy advisor.

    lol. this would be teh awesome. “it all began at brown pundits.”

    0
    1. Its not only muslims. Assamese r even refusing to take in hindu immigrants and r not listening to central government. Religion has nothing to do with nrc. There r many bangladeshis in delhi who live in slums but r given all facilities like electricity, adhaar card for using them as votebanks. While pakistani hindus r living without electricity since last 69 days. Nobody gives a damn about them. There is no war in bangladesh, bangladesh has better hdi than us in some aspects. Its time they stop crossing the border illegaly. Similar nrc should be done all over india. They might not be deported but at least they will be recognized as foreigners.

      0
        1. Yes, assam had militancy in the past due to this very reason. But it hasn’t been eliminated yet. It can be back if outsiders r not sent back. Assamese really hate outsiders. Bangladeshi migrants are visible throughout India but most of them r in assam, i guess. Congress used them as votebank and allowed them to live here illegaly.

          0
        1. It is not based on religion. Tgere are 6-7 lakh hindus too. Bjp tried to bring in constitutional amendment so that non muslims of pak and bangladesh can get Indian citizenship but northeast states r adamant against it.

          0
        2. It’s almost tedious to point out that both state and central governments at the time of both the Nellie massacre and the most recent 2014 killings were under Congress’s secular center-left governments. Somehow they seem to get a pass in these matters.

          A more recent balanced summary that focusses more on the human dimension – both Assamese and Bengalis – and takes no sides between both Congress and BJP’s equally chequered records:

          https://scroll.in/article/889124/fear-mongering-by-media-politicians-over-assams-national-register-of-citizens-needs-to-stop

          0
  2. The overwhelming influence of migrants can be seen in West Bengal, Assam and Hill districts of WB. In WB, all the way from Parganas, through Malda, Murshidapur, to Dinajpur, the migrant population is close to 10 million. Some aspects of the CPM loss to Mamata can be attributed to migrant population, who have shown an unclear favoritism towards Didi even if CPM rushed headlong to normalization and electoral votes.

    In Assam, the impacts are two forth: in districts of Cachar, Karimganj, there is conflict between the immigrants and traditional assamese (non-Bengali) muslims. In the rest of the state, adding 15% population has torn the fabric of the state which by itself the poorest. What was a play by congress to add to votebank has greatly fired in its face.

    In the hill districts, large scale relocation of Gurkha labor has brought up demand for Gorkhaland. In a normal country, this would not have happened. But, labor movement into tea districts has made those districts virtually non-bengali.

    In solid contrast, TN has not populated the Srilankan tamil refugees, and has not given them citizenship. THIS is cruel, agreed. However, adding more refugee population does not help the poor states. There are approximately 10 million Bengali immigrants with no citizenship spread between the eastern districts of Bengal and entire Assam.

    0
  3. The left hyperventilating over these registrations mirrors the right’s alarmism over prospects of firearms registration in the US. In both cases ridiculous fears are raised over the mere collection of information regarding something universally recognized as a rapidly deteriorating situation.

    0
    1. I don’t think the left is “hyperventilating”. Deporting or threatening to deport people based on their religion or ethnicity is not acceptable in any country. I will grant that many of the people concerned may be illegal immigrants but there are also probably genuine Indian citizens among them who just lack the documents to prove that. Most of these people are poor. There is nothing wrong with the opposition (Mamta etc) bringing up the problems in the process. Also, adding fuel to Assam’s ethnic faultlines doesn’t seem to be a particularly wise idea.

      Declaring people stateless is a serious matter. Where will they go if Bangladesh refuses to take them?

      0
      1. “Where will they go if Bangladesh refuses to take them?”

        Pakistan, of course. Didn’t the whole mess start in 1971, when pak army ran amok in east pak and sent millions of refugees fleeing to India. These guys are essentially nothing else but remnant of that refugee population.

        0
        1. They are Bengali. If Bangladesh refuses to take them what makes you think Pakistan will accept them? We have 210 million people of our own.

          Bangladesh has now existed for nearly 5 decades. This is between India and Bangladesh and not Pakistan’s problem.

          0
        2. What a weasel argument. India deliberately left its border porous to facilitate movement for Mukti Bahini fighters. It uses those very refugees to fill the ranks of fighters for its proxy war, only to discars them like a used condom afterwards. I’d actually be open to Pakistan eventually accepting refugees, but to do it to facilitate the whims of xenophobes and fanatics in the Indian govt is a smooth-brained suggestion which can only come from an Indian.

          0
          1. Mir,
            The NRC is an Indian internal matter. Anyone who brings Pakistan into this argument is just being disingenuous.
            The Indian government has the right to implement its immigration policy. All that I and other “leftists” are arguing is that the process should be transparent and well-defined. 40 lac people cannot suddenly become stateless. Also, the immigration policy is not consistent. BJP feels India is a natural homeland for Hindus from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh and is trying to fast-track the process of making these people citizens but Bengali Muslims are all “infiltrators” no matter how long they have been living in Assam.

            0
          2. 1971 created the Bihari refugees – patriotic Pakistani citizens who want to go back to their motherland. Unfortunately the motherland doesnt want to accept them so they live for years in self-imposed exile in Bangladeshi refugee settlements.

            India accepted refugees created by Pakistan’s “transparent” measures in what was East Pakistan. Now Pakistanis are lecturing India on the proper ways to estimate the resulting immigrant population.

            This is beyond funny.

            0
          3. It doesn’t always have to be us vs. Them

            I’m British and Kabir is American; Pakistan is only a component of our identity. FWIW I think Pakistan was wrong not to take in the Biharis post 1971..

            0
          4. (My comments keep getting curtailed somehow.)
            You are right Zack, but do take note who starts the us-vs-them comments.

            Leaving all that (and present commenters) aside I find strange the criticism – mostly from political quarters within India – which tries to delegitimize the attempt to distinguish citizens from non-citizens itself and not just any flaws it might suffer from.

            0
          5. Who is defending Pakistan’s actions during the 1971 War?

            By the way, there was an article on The Wire.in about how in the Barak Valley, there is a settlement where every Bengali Hindu family has someone who has been left off the NRC. I thought BJP said that India was the natural home for Hindus from the neighboring countries?

            The issue is not just about illegal immigration. There is a communal angle and you have to be in denial to miss that.

            0
          6. >1971 created the Bihari refugees – patriotic Pakistani citizens who want to go back to their motherland. Unfortunately the motherland doesnt want to accept them so they live for years in self-imposed exile in Bangladeshi refugee settlements.

            …And? Congratulations on bringing up something virtually every Pakistani will criticize and condemn. Doesn’t detract from anything I said though.

            >India accepted refugees created by Pakistan’s “transparent” measures in what was East Pakistan. Now Pakistanis are lecturing India on the proper ways to estimate the resulting immigrant population.

            What India did was allow an exile government of dissidents and military dissidents to set up shop, which surprise, surprise, opened the floodgates for others to flee. By the time Pakistan had secured the urban centres and Yahya Khan had announced his intentions to resettle refugees and return to normalcy, the ball was very much in India’s court.

            >Now Pakistanis are lecturing India on the proper ways to estimate the resulting immigrant population.

            Yeah, God forbid a Pakistani disrupts my echochamber. How dare he!!!1!1

            >FWIW I think Pakistan was wrong not to take in the Biharis post 1971..

            You’re not alone in that thinking. The only people who support keeping refugees are the ethno-nationalists who protest against people migrating to their provinces and speaking other languages. Pretty much carbon copies of the guys behind this move. Arjun should be cheering them on like he’s cheering the NRC.

            >The issue is not just about illegal immigration. There is a communal angle and you have to be in denial to miss that.

            Very much related tweet.
            https://t.co/WTdjTpzKng

            0
          7. Interesting that these are “excellent comments” while any rebuttal is deprecated as “not everything is us-vs. them”.

            0
          8. “….By the way, there was an article on The Wire.in about how in the Barak Valley, there is a settlement where every Bengali Hindu family has someone who has been left off the NRC. I thought BJP said that India was the natural home for Hindus from the neighboring countries?….”

            You continue to accuse the current government of using NRC as a tool in its communally motivated agenda to label Muslims as foreigners. And now you use contrary data as somehow further contributing to their perfidy ? I am not sure about non-STEM humanities scholars, but us engineers usually revisit our hypotheses (prejudices ?) when we find conflicting data. 🙂

            0
          9. There is a communal angle but also an ethnic angle. It is possible for two things to exist at the same time. At least we humanities scholars are capable of seeing that.

            Those Bengali Hindus believe that the BJP is going to bring in a new law to fast-track their citizenship on the basis of their religion. Yet now they find themselves under threat of being stateless. There are cases where one member of a family has made the list and someone else hasn’t. Like I said, a very flawed process.

            0
  4. You make my point. It isn’t possible to talk about registration without having accusations of deportations and stateless people.
    To give an analogy, should criminal investigations be discontinued because of the possibility that innocents may be charged by mistake ?

    0
    1. What is the end goal of registration? Presumably those who are found to be illegal (or are not able to prove their legal status) will not be allowed to live in India. If that’s not the case, then the whole exercise is fairly pointless no?

      Criminal investigations should not be discontinued but the process followed must be transparent and as fair as possible.

      Also, there is some hypocrisy in trying to get rid of “Bangladeshi infiltrators” on the one hand but then trying to change India’s laws so that Hindus from the neighboring countries can become Indian citizens. If this is primarily a campaign against Bengali Muslims than it is indefensible.

      0
      1. So for a democratically run government there is no reason to try and distinguish between citizens and non-citizens ? This cannot be a serious question.

        0
        1. Distinguishing citizens from non-citizens is fine. But from everything I’ve read about this, the process followed has been extremely flawed.

          0
  5. The end goal is that there is no end goal. Just like demonitization. In democracy people go through the motion , most of the time. And its the process (or at least the feeling that the process is being done) which makes people happy/satisfied , not necessarily the end goal. If only the NRC publishing took 30 years , no political party gives a dam about “end goal” . Hell we dont even know what would be the next step. It might take another 30 years for the next step. No one thinks that long, apart from the chinese.

    0
  6. >The left hyperventilating over these registrations mirrors

    Looking at the other comments, I can understand why anyone is hyperventilating.
    >Yes, assam had militancy in the past due to this very reason. But it hasn’t been eliminated yet. It can be back if outsiders r not sent back. Assamese really hate outsiders.

    Apparently the decision was practically made at gunpoint, with the government fearing that if they didn’t acquiesce to native xenophobia, they’d go back to being minority slaughtering insurgents.

    >In both cases ridiculous fears are raised over the mere collection of information regarding something universally recognized as a rapidly deteriorating situation.

    In one case, there’s no precedent for any of the conspiracy theories. Right wingers have to use their imagination or bring up 20th century China or Russia when criticizing gun registration.

    >It isn’t possible to talk about registration without having accusations of deportations and stateless people.

    What’s the only possible outcome of registration? Seems like a no brainer.

    0
    1. That doesn’t make what India is doing OK. Honestly, bringing Pakistan up in this debate only serves to distract from the main issue.

      I am sympathetic to the fact that each country needs to have an immigration policy and be able to enforce it. But the way that it is done must be transparent and based on rules. You can’t have differing immigration policies based on religion (which is what the BJP wants).

      National identity cards are only meant for genuine citizens. In Pakistan, we have a real problem with illegal Afghans somehow managing to get NICs and then there is no way to tell whether they are Pakistani Pushtuns or Afghans. Refugees are supposed to be registered with the UN and go back to their homes when the situation improves in their country.

      Something should be done for those former East Pakistanis who came to (West) Pakistan before or during the war. They should have a path to Pakistani citizenship.

      I have no idea why there are Iranian refugees in Pakistan, given that they have a perfectly good country next door and Pakistan was not even involved in creating a situation where there would be refugees (unlike in East Pakistan).

      0
    2. It’s different when it is done in Pakistan. Probably some consequence of American/Indian/Israeli interference. But in India anything vaguely similar is definitive proof of the government’s Hindu agenda. 🙂

      0
      1. Who has mentioned American/Indian/ Israeli interference? You’re arguing against strawmen here.

        Amit Shah has gone on record talking about “ghuspithiyas” and saying “what Congress didn’t have the courage to do, BJP has done”. And yes most of the “ghuspithiyas” happen to be Muslim.

        In any case, just because Pakistan does something doesn’t make it OK for India to do it. You want to be at the same level as Pakistan? Then don’t claim the moral high ground later.

        0
  7. Another article from Scroll.in about the problems with the NRC:

    “Instead of trying to resolve differences, irresponsible politics ensued, built on creating fear. And the outcome today is polarising talk of “national security”, or even “shooting and eliminating” infiltrators. The four million in Assam who have been unable to prove their citizenship include both Hindus and Muslims, but with the shrill muscular nationalism that the Bharatiya Janata Party promotes, the claim often heard is that these are all illegal Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh.

    “They must go back where they came from,” is the demand. This is not simple. These people consider themselves Indian, not Bangladeshi. In fact, Bangladesh does not accept them as citizens. Which means that several million people are at risk of becoming stateless. There is wild talk of deportation, wrenching people from their communities and families. Or corralling them in detention camps – which would hardly solve the problem since denying people a livelihood would be a much greater strain on resources than having them live productive lives. Any of these moves would also shame India internationally for violating basic rights, and might even create a real threat to security.”
    https://scroll.in/article/889324/nrc-debate-why-assams-handling-of-the-exercise-will-have-repercussions-for-the-rest-of-india

    0
  8. I would urge you look at the possible biases(surname) certain author bring , since this NRC question has heavily polarized the assamese vs bengali question. Its like asking Tamil/Sinhalese on the ealam wars

    0
    1. The author herself mentioned that her family is Bengali.

      More importantly, she is the South Asia Director for Human Rights Watch so presumably she knows what she is talking about.

      0
  9. As i said asking bengali/assamese is the wrong way to go. There is no nuance as everyone is sticking to his/her own team. If anything there is lack of Assamese perspective since they are not represented that well in national media

    0

Comments are closed.