The verification exercise for NRC (National Register of Citizens) in Assam seems to have most people's knickers in a twist. The BJP seems to be upset that in the final NRC list only 1.9 million (19 lakh) have been left out as non-Indians. This is roughly around 7% of the population in Assam, when the right-wingers have been claiming that a higher number of people to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
The BJP has stated that it would re-approach the Supreme Court to reverify the data, especially the ones pertaining to the districts that are at the border with Bangladesh.
The liberal sections are aghast that the poor and marginalised were forced to get down to come up with papers to prove that their families had been living in India even before 1971- the watershed year of Bangladesh’s creation.
While I'm disappointed at genuine exclusion of many & inclusion through fraud; & pleading for re-verification from Hon SC, there's a silver lining to #NRCFinalList~vexed issue of C'ship is settled & no one can illegaly claim it. My interview in @htTweets https://t.co/8fxH9oJpTL— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) September 3, 2019
While the BJP and Assam's ethnic hardliners are unhappy with the outcome of the NRC verification, the liberals have been using that as a vindication for the needlessness of the NRC exercise.
Their core argument is that establishing one's identity in terms of nationality in border districts is an exercise fraught with danger. Not just in Assam, world over too, most border-town populace have links across countries, and those links cannot be termed dubious off the bat. While national boundaries are firmly drawn, human relationships tend to involve a lot of grey areas that cannot be established in government documents.
While all this may be within the realm of truth, they cannot be used to demonise the NRC exercise, which it requires to be mentioned here, is a Supreme Court-mandated effort.
Look at it from the government's point of view and its necessity to ensure security in areas where it is vulnerable. The NRC exercise, howsoever unpalatable, is something that is necessitated by the safety needs of the people and border States.
State Government has also made necessary arrangements to provide legal aid to the needy people amongst those excluded from #NRCFinalList, by providing all assistance through the District Legal Services Authorities (DLSA).@DIPR_Assam @DGNorthEast @PIB_Guwahati— Spokesperson, Ministry of Home Affairs (@PIBHomeAffairs) September 2, 2019
While there can be a debate about the number of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, there can be no gainsaying the fact that intruders from Bangladesh have indeed settled in Assam, West Bengal and other places. It is also equally well established that their arrival has created local unrest and a few of them have also been involved in terror activities.
Whne it comes to tackling terrorism, it is not wrong for the governments to err on the side of caution. The NRC exercise was a step in the direction of ensuring safety from illegal immigrants.
The issue of immigrants is, in general, is an emotive issue. It is fine to say that countries should be considerate to immigrants. But it is difficult for a stretched nation, which has its own poor to take care of, to handle more burden.
A botched up NRC leaves lakhs of people as foreigners in their own country!— Prashant Kishor (@PrashantKishor) September 1, 2019
Such is the price people pay when political posturing & rhetoric is misunderstood as solution for complex issues related to national security without paying attention to strategic & systemic challenges.
The Bangladesh immigrant issue is not a black and white affair. The right-wingers' worry and fear do have a cause. The liberals too have a point about national identity and human rights.
But still, the NRC exercise cannot be put down as an ultra-nationalistic attempt.