In a surprising turn of events, Hindu and Muslim groups find themselves on the same page ahead of the publication of the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) on Saturday. Both groups have expressed serious concern that many might find themselves excluded from the final list and have thus threatened to agitate. Significantly, ethnic groups in Assam, which have been demanding the NRC update, have kept a safe distance from such concerns.
The All Assam Minority Students Union (AAMSU) recently held a press conference expressing apprehensions that the NRC may include names of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh while excluding many bonafide citizens. “There is a force trying to stall NRC,”Azizur Rahman, advisor to AAMSU, recently told reporters at a press conference in Guwahati. “Some are saying the names of illegal immigrants have been already included and genuine Indians have been left out. If we find any discrepancies, we will be compelled to launch a democratic movement against NRC authority.”
He added that many have been sent re-verification notices a few days before the publication of the document, and said this is a reason to apprehend that wrongful inclusions and exclusions — on a large scale — may occur in the final citizenship document to be published on Saturday.
Hindu groups have also expressed their concerns. Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, of the Sangh Parivar, recently held a protest demanding 100 percent re-verification of the NRC before it is published. “We do not understand what is the problem in conducting a 100 percent re-verification of the entries in the NRC,” said ABVP leader Natwar Kedia. “If the people of Assam could wait for 35 years, they can certainly wait another year for a flawless NRC.”
He added that the draft NRC did not include many names from indigenous tribes and ethnic groups.
“The ABVP has always been with the AASU on the issue of NRC right from the days of Assam Movement. In fact, ABVP demanded update of the NRC on the basis of the 1951 NRC. But AASU signed the Assam Accord agreeing to the condition of updating the NRC on the basis of 1971. If we do not get a flawless NRC even after the compromising 20 years of infiltration into Assam then what is the point in updating the NRC?” Kedia asked.
The Assam Accord, signed in 1985 between All Assam Students Union and the Government of India, resulted in the end of the six-year Assam Movement demanding detection and deportation of illegal immigrants. The Accord agreed upon detecting illegal immigrants who entered the state after 24 March, 1971.
Interestingly, ethnic bodies in Assam, which have been demanding the NRC update for the past 35 years, have dubbed the AAMSU and ABVP stance a ploy to further their own agendas.
“How did they know that the NRC would be flawed?” asked Lurinjyoti Gogoi, general secretary, All Assam Students Union. “The document is not published yet. If they have valid reasons to doubt the credibility of the process then they should approach the Supreme Court because the entire process of NRC update is going on under its monitoring. Spreading baseless rumours is nothing but a crime. The government should immediately arrest these persons.”
Gogoi also expressed surprise over the AAMSU and ABVP "suddenly becoming concerned" about the issue of citizenship when they "maintained silence on the issue" over the past few years. “The ABVP claiming credit for the Assam Movement does not suit it. If it was truly involved in the movement, can it produce the memorandum submitted by it to the government in the year 1979-1980 demanding NRC update when the agitation began?” he further asked.
Mocking the ABVP’s show of concern as a case of "suddenly becoming patriots" Gogoi alleged that both the AAMSU and the ABVP have their own axes to grind and hence are trying to cause a panic. “The AAMSU is worried that many illegal immigrants may not find their names out of the NRC. On the other hand, the ABVP worries that many Hindus immigrants would be excluded. Hence both the organisations want the NRC process to be derailed,” he alleged.
The AAMSU’s stand has also faced backlash from Assamese Muslim organisations, which accused it of changing colour to suit the political situation.
“We have already held a press conference appealing people not to panic as the government has assured that not a single bonafide citizen would be left out of the NRC,” said Hafizul Ahmed, president, Goriya Moriya Desi Jatiya Parishad, an organisation part of a conglomerate of 30 pressure groups representing various tribes and ethnic groups in Assam. “The AAMSU is an organisation which opposed Assam Movement and also opposed the NRC update exercise. It is amusing to see that the same organisation is demanding a flawless NRC now. It reeks of its ill motives.”
Updated Date: Aug 31, 2019 09:18:35 IST