There has been quite a bit of hue and cry about the large number of names deleted from the National Register of Citizens (NRC), 1951 during the almost-concluded process of updating it. The deletion of names has been misrepresented as the deletion of Muslim names alone. What has done even greater harm to the updating exercise is the impression sought to be given by international organizations like Aavaaz that even the names of Indian Muslims have been systematically and mischievously deleted from the updated NRC. The coordinator of the NRC updating exercise has been prompt in rebutting the false allegations being made about the updated NRC, but given the potential for greater mischief that exists in the false allegations being made by Aavaaz, there is need for a much larger number of protests from different organizations in India that have anything at all to do with demographic changes in a State like Assam.
There are two kinds of mischief that organizations like Aawaaz are capable of perpetrating unless organizations in the State draw the pointed attention of the people of India to the great harm that can be done by not permitting the NRC update exercise to be properly concluded. And this takes us to certain important facts related to the updating of the NRC, 1951. It is very important not to forget that the exercise of updating the NRC, 1951 has been confined to the State of Assam mainly because the Centre discovered (much too late) that Assam and the other north-eastern States of India have had to bear the brunt of very large-scale illegal migration from Bangladesh. There is no denying that much of what has happened is due to the acts of omission and commission by the Centre and our own bureaucracy over the past few decades. The Centre so ignored the problem as to give the impression to the people of India and the rest of the world that the large-scale illegal migration (in millions) to States like Assam from neighbouring Bangladesh was no problem at all.
When India was partitioned in 1947 to create Pakistan, the two parts of Pakistan were at two ends of the Indian subcontinent separated by a few thousand miles. East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) then had a Hindu population of around 34 per cent. Over the years, as a result of conversions and migration to other countries, the Hindu population of Bangladesh has got reduced to a little over eight per cent. Such being the case, whenever there is large-scale illegal migration from such a country to any neighbouring country, the demographic composition of the country is bound to be reflected even in the migrant population. We have to reckon not only with the religious minorities anxious to flee from a theocratic country but also with the expansionist ambitions of an Islamic country pretending to be secular. And that would explain the presence of a huge Bangladeshi Muslim population in States like Assam pretending to be Indian citizens. There can be no doubts that the bulk of the Muslims from Bangladesh now in Assam have already managed to get their names included in the electoral roll of the State. And that is why there are questions emanating from unknown organizations in countries like the United States that presume to question India about why the names of Muslims are being deleted from the updated NRC. Neither Aavaaz nor any of the American or Canadian organizations seeking to fish in troubled waters have bothered to find out whether the names being deleted from the updated NRC are names of Indian Muslims or of Bangladeshi nationals who had managed to get their names included in the electoral roll of Assam. Apart from other explanations of how millions of names of non-Indians could have got included in the electoral roll of Assam, there is the clear explanation of bureaucratic wrong-doing over the years that has served to destroy the very concept of Assam. These bureaucrats are now probably being asked to explain how the names of so many Bangladeshis got into the electoral roll of Assam. At least, that is what the people of Assam would like to believe. And considering that we have a democracy, it would be perfectly in order not only to expect the electoral roll to be ruthlessly corrected but to have the names of all non-Indians in our electoral roll completely weeded out. That is what the people of Assam have a right to expect. And that was what the NRC exercise was all about.