Would-be victims of NRC

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav has said that those finally excluded from the National Register of Citizens in Assam will be disenfranchises and “deported to their country”. It is quite possible for the Government to disenfranchise certain people and make them stateless, but is it within the powers of the powers that be to deport anyone to any country if the country concerned refuses to accept them? What is going on in the name of preparing an NRC is nothing but singling out the Bengali-speaking people of the State and targeting them along religious lines. The Bengali Hindus, even if they have come from Bangladesh long after the cut-off date of March 25, 1971. Because, along with the preparation of the NRC, the Government seeks to amend the Citizenship Act so that people of all religions, except the Muslims, from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan are given Indian citizenship. So only the Muslims will be disenfranchises because Bangladesh has made it clear that since no citizen of theirs is illegally staying in India, the country will not accept anybody branded as Bangladeshi by India.
In the first draft of the NRC, the names of nearly four million Bengali-speaking people were omitted. A fresh opportunity has been given to register their names. Those who fail to satisfy the Government by producing documents that are required of them will be disenfranchises. This means that for all practical purposes they will become stateless and deprived of the basic necessities needed to survive. Obviously, these people will try to move into nearby States. Among the nearby States only West Bengal may not be hostile to their entry. With a BJP government ruling the Bengali-speaking State of Tripura, these people will not find any place there also. So, it is West Bengal which may eventually have to shelter them because they have nowhere else to go.  Mamata Banerjee should take up the matter with the Centre so that West Bengal is not deluged by a flood of lakhs of people.
The matter is of great importance because big and small leaders of the BJP are already talking of preparing an NRC in West Bengal also. As this matter is within the domain of the Centre, the State will have very little say in this. But the social unrest that is likely to follow from such a contemplated exercise will have to be taken into account and sorted out. The Centre just can’t create a problem of such magnitude and then wash its hands clean and dump the problem on the lap of the State Government.

Tuesday, 11 September, 2018