The updating of the NRC had implied that more than 40 lakh people have been excluded from citizenship in Assam. Communalism and sectarian politics have a major role to play in the latest jolt to the country.
What is NRC?
The NRC (National Register of Citizens)is a register having the details of Indian citizens living in Assam. The NRC was first prepared in 1951 after the census. On 30th July, 2018 the final draft of the NRC was released. The NRC has led to a debate as it has left out the names of more than 4o lakh people.
The final draft of the NRC has been released and it leaves behind the names of more than 4o lakh people who live in Assam. More than 3.29 crore people had applied for the citizenship. The people who have been seen a ineligible for the citizenship will not be offered any right within the nation. This practically means that more than 40 lakh people in Assam are now stateless and are not recognized by any country as its citizens. There is also an apprehension that the up -gradation of the NRC and the exclusion of 40 lakh people will only further the ruling party’s agenda of communalism.
Who has been left out?
The majority of those left out are Bengali speaking Muslims who have migrated to Assam at some juncture. Technically a great section of their population can be eligible for citizenship according to the rule that all those who migrated to Assam before the midnight of March 24, 1971 can be considered as citizens. These populations often do not have the adequate document to prove this and thus it is not simple to ensure them citizenship.
Why is this problematic?
This is problematic because the NRC does not see as eligible for citizenship the children of immigrants of Assam who were born in the state itself. This goes against the Citizenship Act amended in 2003. There is a plan to further discuss an amendment to this bill in the winter session of the Parliament and propose the granting of citizenship to religious minorities like Christians, Buddhists, Parsis etc. but not to the practioners of Islam. This bill will seek to discriminate between people on the basis of religion and go against the spirit of the Constitution. The Supreme Court ordered the State to take into account the degree of illegal migrants. However illegal migrants are illegal migrants everywhere irrespective of their religious affiliations. Sheltering some religious migrants and denying citizenship to other religious minorities violates the Constitutional spirit.
What will the results be?
A large section of the population who used to live in Assam will now be displaced. States like Bengal and countries like Bangladesh are likely to face repercussions. Chief Minister of Bengal, Mamata Banerjee has said that she would welcome Assamese refugees. She has critiques the ruling party and accused them of turning Indians into refugees in their own country. Other opposition parties have also critiqued the BJP for this strategy prior to the 2019 elections.