Assam NRC: Fringe Equations

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The huge importance of the exercise of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC), 1951 was discussed in this column yesterday. What needs to come across very clearly to all Indians living in Assam is that this colossal exercise involving human beings had to be conducted only in Assam mainly because no other Indian State has been as badly affected by large-scale illegal influx of foreigners from Bangladesh as Assam has been. Therefore, we now have the amusing case of people in our government who made the illegal immigration of over four million people from Bangladesh possible through sheer neglect of their duties as officers of the State, taking unexpected interest in the updating of the NRC of 1951 and the fact that over four million names have been excluded from the updated NRC. They all know that most of the names excluded from the updated NRC are of foreign nationals who had fraudulently got their names included in our electoral roll. This is the kind of thing that happens in many other parts of the world as well. Citizens of less developed countries migrate illegally to more developed neighbouring countries and keep exploring all possible means of securing citizenship and getting their names included in the voters’ list and the list of citizens. But nowhere in the world have there been such sustained efforts at getting their names included in the voters’ list of any other country. This aspiration is, in turn, a clear indication of the fact that India is gradually becoming a country to which citizens of other countries wish to belong. This is an aspiration stoked by the fact that loyalty to one’s country and the spirit of patriotism are no longer the guiding principles for courses of action for a lot of people.

What is particularly significant at this point is the touching concern of the Congress and the Trinamool Congress about the fate of the 40 lakh or four million people whose names have not been included in the updated NRC. One fails to understand how they can consistently pretend that they are unaware of the updated NRC being confined to the names of Indian citizens living in Assam and not foreigners living in Assam. And this seems to be happening even when everyone is demanding that the updated NRC should be completely free of the names of foreigners. Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay wants to know where these 40 lakh people will go. He regards their exclusion from the updated NRC as “most inhuman” and “a torture upon their mentality”. We are unaware of how there can be torture upon someone’s mentality. Bandopadhyay also wants to know why such a thing is happening only in Assam. We too would like to know why these 40 lakh people should have been encouraged to come only to Assam (instead of being encouraged to go to other States as well). He now talks about the need to ensure that justice is not denied to them. How can any illegal migrant to another country expect what is called ‘justice’ in some other country that he/she has migrated to illegally? Where is the justice in orchestrating large-scale migration to a State that the votaries of ‘Brihattar Banga’ want to make a part of their proposed Eutopia? What we really have is political mischief masquerading as action against so-called political injustice. Much of the problems that assail Assam stem from the lack of timely bureaucratic initiatives mainly because the bureaucracy seems to have lost its grip on the most vital issues facing the State. It is high time the bureaucracy in Assam learned the importance of tackling major problems of the State in time instead of carrying on the age-old practice of hoping that problems will solve themselves if ignored long enough.