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Maulana Badruddin Ajmal softens stand on Assam NRC, now says 'religion or language' shouldn't be linked with list

New Delhi: The people who are alleging that Muslims are being targeted in the process of ongoing work of National Register of Citizens update in Assam, are not helping the state or the nation, says Maulana Badruddin Ajmal leader of the All India United Democratic Front, a political party that bases its politics around the immigrant Muslim identity in Assam.

 Maulana Badruddin Ajmal softens stand on Assam NRC, now says religion or language shouldnt be linked with list

File image of AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal. Wikimedia Commons

“Different persons have been making different claims about the existence of illegal Bangladeshis in Assam. Former minister of state for home Sriprakash Jaiswal said in Parliament that there are 50 Lakh illegal Bangladeshis in Assam. Prior to that former Assam Governor Lt Gen SK Sinha in a report to the President of India also claimed that there was a sizable population of illegal Bangladeshis in Assam. But the NRC process leaves only 40 lakh out of the draft,” he said.

During the UPA regime, Jaiswal in 2004 told Parliament that there were 50 lakh Bangladeshis in Assam though he later withdrew his statement. Prior to that in the year 1998, the then governor of Assam Lt Gen (Retd.) Sinha in his report to the president marked illegal immigration from Bangladesh a threat to national security and not a regional issue.

Ajmal also added that many out of the 40 lakh people who did not find their names in the NRC  would be included in the final list after the formalities related to claims and objections are over.

“The NRC process should not be linked with religion or language. It is only about identifying Indians and foreigners,” he added.

The final draft of the NRC was published on 30 July amid rampant fear mongering that the exercise would wipe out a rather big number of Muslims out of the voter list. An organisation named Avaaz launched a global campaign in a petition titled India: Stop deleting Muslims.

The petition began saying, “In a few days India will delete as many as 7 million Muslims in Assam  state from its master list of ‘citizens’ because they speak the wrong language and worship the wrong God.”

Widescale fear mongering led Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to issue statements repeatedly to allay fears and also send 22,000 security personnel to Assam to control any possible law and order situation in the state.

On the other hand, the opposition created a ruckus over non-inclusion of many Indian citizens in the final draft. Congress leader Anand Sharma had said, “It was important for the opposition to register its concern with regard to disenfranchising our own citizens who have been from other states or from Assam as indigenous people should be rendered refugees in our country. This is a humanitarian aspect.”

West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee went to the extent of claiming that the NRC is an exercise of divide and rule policy and a game plan to throw out Bengalis and Biharis out of Assam.

On 3 August, a Trinamool Congress delegation of eight members that went to Assam from West Bengal to assess the situation there was detained by Assam Police at Kumbhirgram Airport and the delegates had to return without interacting with the people.

When asked about his reaction to the statement by the West Bengal chief minister, Ajmal declined to answer saying, “I cannot comment on her statement.”

Despite all the politicking around NRC, the AIUDF leader was seen unagitated. Rather he claimed that more than 94 percent of the people in his constituency Dhuburi have found their names in the second list.

“This number is likely to increase after the claims and objection procedure is over as people would submit more documents to prove their citizenship,” he added.

When asked what would be the political future of his party if a big number of Bengali Muslims finally lose their citizenship, he said, “All the parties would have to face the change if the number of voters itself decreases substantially, because victory is normally decided in 5 percent to 10 percent of votes.”

He also said that people would be mobilised to provide legal assistance to the ones whose names did not appear in the final list.

“Many lawyers have assured me that they would provide legal assistance to people to prove their citizenship free of cost. Young men and women have come out assist people to provide legal help,” the AIUDF president said.

When asked what according to him should be done to ensure the rights of the people who even after observing all procedure fail to prove their citizenship, Ajmal said, “It is a call to be taken by the Supreme court of India. So we hope that people would meet justice. We as a party will come up with suggestions to the government.”

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Updated Date: Aug 06, 2018 16:09:28 IST