The National Register for Citizens in Assam has become the latest bone of contention between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan with the latter linking the citizenship exercise as part of the BJP-led Central Government's wider policy to 'target Muslims' in India.
Soon after the list was released on 31 August, Imran took to Twitter accusing the Modi govt of attempting "ethnic cleansing of Muslims", adding to his rhetoric of blaming India and the policies of the Modi government as an attempt of targetting Muslims, a stand he has held since the abrogation of Article 370, which removed the special status tag to Jammu and Kashmir and divided the former state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Reports in Indian and international media on Modi Govt's ethnic cleansing of Muslims should send alarm bells ringing across the world that the illegal annexation of Kashmir is part of a wider policy to target Muslims.https://t.co/QmjTDyaGVV
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) August 31, 2019
The final draft of the much-awaited NRC, which set out to identify bonafide Indian citizens in Assam through a Supreme Court-monitored process, was published on Saturday amid tight security arrangements.
The office of the NRC state coordinator in Guwahati released a statement confirming that out of the 3,30,27,661 applicants, a total of 3,11,21,004 have been included in the citizenship registry, which leaves out over 19 lakh people from the final list.
Pakistani publications have also voiced criticism over the NRC saying that the citizenship register is an attempt to "deport millions of minority Muslims". An editorial by a retired general, Mirza Aslam Beg, in The Nation noted, "What is happening in both Kashmir and Assam is an attempt to change the demographics in favour of Hindus. Kashmiris fear the government’s real plan in wiping out their autonomy is to pave the way to resettle a large number of Hindu Indians in Kashmir and end its status as the only Muslim-majority territory in India."
Another Pakistani newspaper, The Dawn, in an editorial termed the process of updating the NRC as a controversy caused by "the BJP’s penchant for stoking anti-Muslim, the anti-immigrant sentiment". The article also claimed that the list would "will undoubtedly strain its ties with Bangladesh".
Tensions are running high between India and Pakistan since the revocation of special status given to Jammu and Kashmir and its bifurcations into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. In a series of tweets last week, Khan called the Indian government “fascist”, “racist”, following “Nazi ideology”, and accused it of “ethnic cleansing and genocide ideology”. Khan even wrote an opinion piece on Kashmir in the New York Times where he argued that it was urgent to begin discussions while a "nuclear shadow" hovers over South Asia if the world does nothing to "stop Indian assault on Kashmir and its people".
Meanwhile, the BJP party's own leader Himanta Biswa Sarma has expressed concerns over the final list that intended to identify legal residents and weed out illegal immigrants from the northeastern state. Dissatisfied with the final list, Sarma said that the saffron party was already mulling a "fresh strategy on how to drive out the illegal migrants".
He also urged the Supreme Court to take cognisance of the matter and allow a 20 percent re-verification for bordering districts and 10 percent for remaining districts for a "correct and fair NRC". Several other Assamese groups including those signatories to the Assam Accord have also expressed dissatisfaction in the final NRC list.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Sep 03, 2019 16:02:30 IST