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A Heartless, Meaningless Exercise

A Heartless, Meaningless Exercise

Referring to the immigrants from Bangladesh, Amit Shah, the second most powerful man after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had said: They are termites and they would be thrown out after the party comes back to power at the Centre. Sending shock waves, he thundered: The process of creating National Register of Citizens will not be limited to Assam; it will be extended across India. But, after the final NRC figures for Assam are put on the public realm, he has kept a studied silence. His silence tells a lot. It tells something has terribly gone wrong.

First, as the NRC process was in progress, Mr Shah had reportedly said that at least 40 lakh illegal immigrants are staying in Assam. The figure was 40 lakh in the draft NRC too, but it has slipped drastically to 19 lakh in the final NRC. With 120 days given for rectifying the mistakes and the option to approach higher courts to redress the grievances, the figure is bound to take a nosedive in the final reckoning. It seems to be a case of mountain delivering a mouse.

Second, after a herculean task extending over six years, spending over 1000 crores of rupees and poring over several crores of documents, the result has left most people, including the ardent supporters of the BJP, angry and disillusioned. Lakhs of those who have been living in the State for generations have been labelled ‘foreigners’ overnight. Among those hapless souls are: A Member of Legislative Assembly; a brigadier of the Indian Army who had been conferred Vir Chakra; a junior commissioned officer who served the Army for years and his family; almost a lakh of indigenous people who should have been the first to be recognized as citizens; parents who find their names in the list, but see the names of their children missing; the list of such genuine victims goes endlessly.  

Third, initially it was claimed that majority of the illegal immigrants are Muslims who have slipped into Assam through porous border by hook or by crook. But, by the quirk of fate, a large number of Hindus have found their names missing from the final NRC. This has made the saffron party see red and many are seeking a repeat of this gargantuan process, something that would put money and man power of the State under tremendous pressure.

Fourth, the life of those who find their names out of the NRC is going to be hell-like. They will have to undergo a repeat of a heartless and dreaded procedure which dumbed them as ‘outsiders’.   Inhabitants of remote areas will have to travel miles again with a new set of documents tucked under their arms to prove their citizenship. It is doubtful whether the State machinery which proved to be inefficient and incompetent would do a better job when asked to repeat the same. 

Fifth, it is unthinkable what chaos would grip the nation if the ridiculous exercise is extended to the whole country. A shoddy exercise that apparently could not identify ‘foreigners’ in a State, if extended nation-wide, will lead to all-around anarchy and turmoil of bigger magnitude.

(Published on 09th September 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 37)