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The NRC and after


With less than three weeks left for publication of the final National Register of Citizens, speculations are rife that names of a large number of persons will be left out. It is, however, obvious that names of several lakh people will be left out, and there is nothing surprise or unnatural about it. Assam has been facing serious infiltration from across the India-Bangladesh border since the time of Partition. At that time it was East Pakistan; since it has been Bangladesh. It has been on record – both of the central as well as the state government – that there has been large-scale infiltration since 1947. Assam’s first chief minister Lokapriya Gopinath Bardoloi had taken a very strong stand against infiltration, for which he had a strained relationship with then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. His successors, particularly Bishnuram Medhi and Bimala Prasad Chaliha too continued with Bardoloi’s stand. Chaliha in fact is credited with having successfully expelled close to two lakh infiltrators – East Pakistanis – during his tenure, for which he was literally pulled up by Nehru and was asked to stop the operations. The Election Commission too has been on record, particularly since the time of Chief Election Commissioner Shyam Lal Shakdher in 1981-82 that a sizeable number of infiltrators – East Pakistanis-turned-Bangladeshis – had even got themselves enrolled as voters in Assam. The massive six-year-lond agitation led by the All Assam Students’ Union had on the other hand culminated in signing of the Assam Accord in which also the Government of India had in clear terms placed on record the problem of large-scale influx. While successive governments at the Centre have also very clearly placed statistics about influx in various sessions of Parliament, then Assam governor Lt Gen SK Sinha, a former Vice-Chief of the Indian Army, had in 1998 submitted a well-researched report to the President of India on the dangerous dimension infiltration was assuming, causing threat to India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, apart from threatening to wipe out the Indian population in Assam. Finally, it was the Supreme Court of India which had given a detailed analysis of the problem while disposing off a petition filed by then AASU president Sarbananda Sonowal praying for scrapping of the notorious IM(DT) Act. One must keep the people reminding that the Supreme Court had described infiltration from Bangladesh as a silent demographic invasion and an external aggression. What is disturbing is that a section of people sitting in Delhi and other places, have been running a well-calculated campaign to defeat the very purpose of the NRC which is being prepared under the supervision of the Supreme Court. Important to also keep reminding, the decision to prepare the NRC was taken at a tripartite meeting of the AASU, the Centre and the Assam government in the presence of then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in May 2005. What is also disturbing is the fact that a section of people – including a few journalists, self-styled human rights activists and intellectuals – sitting in Delhi and other places has been trying to depict the people of Assam as enemies of a particular community professing a particular faith. This section of people, however, had never bothered to look at Assam when the province was almost gifted to Pakistan in 1947, when the Chinese Army had almost reached Tezpur in 1962, when lakhs of people from erstwhile East Pakistan had taken refuge in Assam during the Bangladesh liberation movement, when lakhs of people are affected by floods in Assam every year, or on occasions when the people of Assam raised their voice against decades of neglect by the Centre. What is also very disturbing is that this section of new-born messiahs of the suspected illegal migrants of Assam is being backed by a section of people from Assam itself, including a few young Assamese self-styled intellectuals. The Government – both in Dispur and Delhi – should take note of this. The Intelligence and Security agencies should take note of this and identify these people immediately. The attention of the Supreme Court too should be drawn to this campaign and these individuals who have the full potential of instigating trouble in the aftermath of publication of the final NRC.


Also read: All Assam Minority Students’ Union protests in Lakhimpur against ‘harassment’ in re-verification for NRC