The NRC in Assam- Why is it controversial? - Seeker's Thoughts

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The NRC in Assam- Why is it controversial?

The migration is the problem of today’s world, where people are closing their borders and narrowing it down. Migration has helped economies to grow as well as people craved to be accepted in the new culture, where native people consider migrants as a threat to their jobs. Due to the migration even, few of the Indian States have started registering the citizen of States- for Example, National Register of Citizens in Assam and RIIN.  


The problem with National Register of Citizen is that it left 19 lakh, people, out, and their fate will be decided by the foreigner’s Tribunal.

The Foreigner’s Tribunal has its own limitations as it does not have an affordable option to appeal to the higher echelons of the judiciary.

Most of the people are poor and helpless. Deporting them is also not a viable option.

The Assam is underdeveloped and is not willing to bear their burden as the state faces annual floods, drying up natural resources and the cut-throat competition.

It is the responsibility of the central government to provide rehabilitation and look after those who are left out after the exercise.

What is the National Register of Citizens (NRC)?

The national register of citizen (NRC) is the list of Indian citizens of Assam. It was prepared in 1951, following the census of 1971. For a person’s name to be included in the updated NRC list of 2018, he/she will have to furnish:

1.    Existence of name in the legacy data:

The legacy data is the collective list of the NRC data of 1951 and the electoral rolls up to midnight of 24 March 1971.

Proving linkage with a person whose name appears in the legacy data will be enough for the enrolment of the National Register of Citizens.

          On 30th July 2018, the final draft of NRC was released. Names of 40 lakh (4 million) people were still left out in the final draft.

How was NRC implemented?

Policy decision, guidelines, and funds of NRC updating are provided by the Central government of India, but its implementation is done through the state government machinery under the registrar general of India who functions as the registrar general of citizen registration under rule 15 of citizenship rules, 2003 as amended in 2009 and 2010.

The modalities for NRC updating have been developed jointly by the government of Assam and the government of India in adherence to these statutes.


How did NRC verification begin in Assam?

 The process of NRC update was taken up in Assam as per the supreme court order in 2013. In order to wean out cases of illegal migration from Bangladesh and other adjoining areas, NRC updating was carried out under the citizenship act, 1955, and according to rules framed in the Assam accord.

Why is it being updated?

The National Register of citizens is an exercise which was first carried out in 1951 to enumerate the citizens, their houses and holdings, Over the years, there has been a demand from the indigenous Assamese groups to update the NRC.

A pilot project was initiated at two places in 2010. In Barpeta, police action on an anti-NRC protest led to four deaths and the project was shelved. It resumed after Cant order from the supreme court. 

Equal opportunity should be given to those persons whose names are not included in the draft. No one should be sent to detention camp or foreigners tribunal.

The roots of the hatred

The State’s discontent can be traced back in the 20th century, The British colonial rulers faced a massive peasant revolt, therefore promoted the farmer's migration to Assam. The relocation flooded a higher number of migrants during 1930s and ’40s.

The Britishers also started an opinion among native Assamese people that their lands being ‘seized’ and their culture ‘being’ buried.

There were some provocative leaders like C.S Mullan in 1931 turned the public anxiety into a panic.

Even Maulana Bhasani demanded land for new immigrants and the inclusion of Assam in Pakistan. However, after partition, Maulana Bhasani went to east Pakistan, which is now known as Bangladesh. The followers of Maulana joined the congress.

Maulana Bhasani

There were people who wanted Assam to be tolerant of the diversity and wanted peaceful coexistence and fraternal relations.

Among them were writer Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, Bishnu Prasad Rabha, and Singer – Musocoan Bhupen Hazarika and until the Assam Movement, which began in 1979, the relations remained cordial.

The Xenophobic Assamese

Ill-informed people and media reports published that the NRC is to torture and oppress the Muslims.

Since the 1980’s to the late 1990’s social unrest, ethnic conflict, militancy, and insurgency under the different flags were created.

That led to the complete lack of security, loss of trust between the communities, and uncontrolled violence.

The army and Police made the situation worse. However, there was a group of social activists and wiser political elements who supported the peace.

But in the 1990s even the popular Muslim leaders landed their support for the Assam accord.

That time was a watershed moment as the demand for NRC gained greater traction.

The signing of the Assam Accord, which set 1971 as the cut-off year for determining citizenship.

Immigrant Muslims initially considered it a betrayal and even formed their own political party but they began expressing support for the pact in the late 1990s.

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