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Mischievous campaign

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  26 Oct 2017 12:00 AM GMT

After missing several deadlines, the draft tiol Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam is due to be out by 31 December this year. But in the run up to its publication, rumour mills seem to have begun working overtime. The whispering campaign is known to be primarily targeted at Muslims, both indigenous and migrant, that they will be left out in large numbers from the updated NRC because of their religion. Indigenous Muslim communities have taken alarm at reports that even if they make it to the NRC, they will be stripped of the ‘origil inhabitant’ (OI) status. This in effect means that having long watched immigrant Muslims from Bangladesh hog the benefits of government welfare schemes meant to improve the lot of poor Muslims — Assam’s indigenous Muslims now stand to lose whatever chances remain of constitutiol safeguards ever being granted to sons of the soil. The alarm has been set off after the State NRC Coorditor submitted a report in Supreme Court stating that 17.4 lakh of total 47.09 lakh applicants have been identified as Origil Inhabitants. This in turn has prompted some political parties and the State Jamiat to ask on what basis the NRC authority is talking about OI status — when the very definition of who an origil inhabitant is — has not been filised as yet. The apex court is slated to take up this matter for hearing soon. Meanwhile, demands have been raised by certain quarters that immigrant Muslims too, those who came to Assam before the NRC cut-off date of 24 March, 1971, should be granted OI status. Clearly, this is part of a sinister design to muddy the waters over a sub-judice matter. The NRC verification phase, among other problems, is learnt to be dogged by numerous cases of suspected Bangladeshi immigrants claiming legacy links with indigenous Muslims by liberally misusing their surmes. The ploy by the immigrant bloc to also claim the ‘origil inhabitant’ tag that indigenous Muslims fully deserve — will need to be watched in coming days. If we look two years back to the then Speaker Prab Kumar Gogoi’s efforts to firm up the definition of ‘Assamese people’ under Assam Accord, the diversiory tactics then employed by some quarters to frustrate that initiative were very similar to what is being attempted now over the OI status issue. These mischievous quarters are hell-bent in ensuring that no effort to define an indigenous or origil inhabitant will ever succeed in Assam. Meanwhile, apprehending trouble in several pockets across the State, New Delhi and Dispur are reportedly taking a hard look at the emerging threat perception and likely need for additiol forces. As of now, the Assam Police DGP has said his men are fully capable of dealing with any disturbance, that all police stations have been sensitized. However, the State government has a task on its hands to maintain law and order, for the NRC issue has the potential to figure prominently in 2019 general elections. The political dispensation in Dispur can start by combating the disinformation campaign to discredit NRC update, and educate the people forthwith on how to file honest claims.

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