Editorial

Contentious exercise

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 9/1/2019 11:26:07 AM IST

 Almost two million people are desperately unhappy that they have not made the final cut as bona fide Indian citizens into Assam’s National Register of Citizens(NRC), while many others felt too few had been rejected. Over 19 lakh people’s claims have been rejected out of the total of 40.7 lakh who had earlier found their names missing in last year’s NRC draft.One of the stated aims of the exercise is to separate citizens from undocumented migrants, or anyone who cannot prove that they or their ancestors lived in the country before midnight on March 24, 1971, or the eve of the Bangladesh War. The Assam NRC is being watched very closely by other neighbouring north eastern states who fear that those excluded might seek refuge in their states. The apprehension is not unfounded since most of the illegal migrants suspected to be from Bangladesh, enter various states through Assam, which has become the spring board. Within days of the release of the draft NRC, Meghalaya’s influential student body, the Khasi Students’ Union, set up “check gates” at several places along the state’s border with Assam. Its stated aim: to prevent the “mass influx” of the people who had failed to make it to the draft NRC. Also the Mizo Zirlai Pawl, the apex student body in Mizoram, set up check gates and kept “round-the-clock” vigil for alleged illegal migrants from Assam. The All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union also launched “Operation Clean Drive” looking for undocumented migrants in the wake of the NRC draft. In Manipur, too, an influential civil society group started checking for citizenship papers of people from Assam. Earlier, the indigenous Twipuris had petitioned the Supreme Court in October 2018 asking for an NRC to protect the state’s tribal minority from illegal “influx”. The court sent a notice to the Centre and Election Commission, seeking their response. The concern over illegal migrants from Assam suspected to be Bangladeshis had also led several organisations in Nagaland to demand Inner Line Permit regulation(BEFR) to Dimapur district. As a sequel the state government committee recommended preparation of Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland(RIIN) to count its indigenous inhabitants. The NRC in Assam, is therefore considered to be a major challenge for these states in tackling the influx of illegal migrants. Once the NRC is complete, these states can also begin the process of deportation of illegal migrants who have crossed over from Assam. The NRC in Assam has fuelled intense sentiments among the people of the state and the difference in views clearly suggest that either way, the efforts would be damned either way. The low percentage of exclusion of those living along the Indo-Bangladesh border has only given rise to the suspicion that the NRC is flawed. AIMIM chief Assaduddin Owaisi jabbed BJP by saying that the NRC proved that the fear of influx by Muslims from Bangladesh was unfounded. On the other hand, Assam finance minister and BJP legislator Himanta Biswa Sarma had expressed dissatisfaction with the NRC. He said that many Indian citizens who migrated from Bangladeshi prior to 1971 have not been included because authorities refused to accept their refugee certificate. It would seem that the Assam NRC will be as contentious and a long drawn out affair, that will only add to the delay, much to the dismay of the north eastern states. 

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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