The update of the NRC in Assam is beset with problems ranging from the alleged non-cooperation by other States in the grave matter of document verification of those who had applied for the entry of their names in the updated list with documents prepared in those States, the reported attempts of the sinister kind by illegal Bangladeshis to enter the list, to the justifiable concerns of the indigenous people of the State as to the accuracy or infallibility of the updated list – given the sheer desperation of aliens from Bangladesh who are trying to enter the list by hook or by crook. It is not without reason that the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), along with other ethnic organizations, has time and again raised the issue before State NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela. Their chief concern is whether the updated list would be error-free in so far as illegal Bangladeshis are concerned as these aliens in hordes are trying to ensure, by using foul means, that they are not left out so that as Indian ‘minorities’ settled in Assam they may go on expanding their base here and become top kingmakers. After all, how can one gloss over the fact of mutation of district after district, especially such as Barpeta, Dhubri, Karimganj, Goalpara, Hailakandi and Nagaon, into ‘minorities’-dominated districts (we are using the word ‘minorities’ as is used in the so-called secular parlance here) due solely to illegal immigration from Bangladesh and the patronage of aliens by ‘secular’ political forces for cheap electoral mileage even at the cost of the very sovereignty and integrity of our motherland? Hence the gravity of the issue.
It is reassuring that Prateek Hajela has once again assured the indigenous people of the State that the updated list will not contain the names of any foreigners (read ‘illegal Bangladeshis’) and at the same time it will not exclude the names of any genuine Indian citizens in the State. How far such continual assurance will indeed be a reality once the final draft of the updated NRC is published on June 31, only time will tell. For, as we have been iterating in this column in recent times, the gravity of the problem of illegal immigration from Bangladesh to Assam is colossal. Indigenous concerns as to the problem, which is real and not any figment of ‘communal’ imagination, stems from three chief factors: (1) thanks to the anti-Assam operation of the notorious and unconstitutional IM(DT) Act from 1983 to 2005 when it was scrapped by the Supreme Court, the flow of aliens from Bangladesh to their best living, breeding and working space called Assam has been gargantuan, with both the Congress and the AGP, in power during those crucial years, expediently overlooking the immigration and safe settlement of the illegal immigrants just because votes weighed far more for both the parties than the indigenous cause and the very sovereignty and integrity of our beloved motherland; (2) even the judiciary is on record stating that illegal Bangladeshis have already become kingmakers in Assam, which means the very existence of the sons of the soil of Assam lies greatly jeopardized even as the NRC update work is on; and (3) forget sar areas and natural parks such as Kaziranga, even our prized xatra lands have been encroached by the marauding aliens, a concern that has found eminent mention in the statements of a gamut of xatradhikars and ethnic organizations. Combine these three factors and you will come to just one inference with tremendous ramifications for the destiny of the indigenous people of the State: that they have rendered a minority in several places; that their destiny lies imperilled; and that the day is not far when they will become second-rate citizens in their own land of birth – a persecuted second-rate citizenry! The issue, therefore, is very serious; hence the justifiability of the indigenous concern raised by the AASU and a whole lot of other ethnic groups in recent times.
Hajela would do well, in the given context of a life-and-death situation confronted by the sons of soil of Assam, to ensure that his team does the best work, without any room for any lacunae, in the matter of document verification as the deadline of an updated NRC approaches fast, and if any official is found guilty of any wrongdoing, the sternest punishment in accordance with the law of the land is awarded. The issue is not serious because it was high time an updated NRC in technical terms was put into effect in the State; the issue is extremely serious because it deals with the very survival of an indigenous people. It is a matter of human rights, above all. One cannot leave an innocent indigenous people at the mercy of hostile and religiously absolutist marauding aliens.