The NRC-CAB Affair

It is quaintly amusing that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has opposed the findings of the foreigners' tribunal regarding the NRC in Assam, and still Amit Shah is declaring that the NRC will be prepared for other states also; he is in favour of preparing a second and final round of NRC for Assam. Now the Modi government is trying to pass the Citizens' Amendment Bill (CAB) with the explicit, not covert, intention of driving out Muslims in large numbers. That is why immigrants from Afghanistan has been included, while those from Myanmar has not. Myanmar was a part of India till the late thirties of the last century, but Afghanistan was not. If religious persecution is considered important why are the persecuted from Myanmar are excluded, while those from Afghanistan are not? This is a question which the Modi government prefers to evade.

For quite a few years, the BJP-RSS combine has been propagating that there have been large numbers of infiltration of Muslims from neighbouring countries, giving rise to a crisis of demographic change in India. The data provided in Census reports do not, however, bear out this story. Amit Shah and his large band of followers spread all over the country will not, however, answer the question why with the presence of a huge border security force such a large-scale infiltration could take place. About non-Muslims, the argument is that they have been forced to migrate owing to religious persecution. This is not true, however. Many have migrated owing to other reasons, including the desire to live near their kinsmen already settled in India, better earning opportunities etc.

The data on excluded persons in Assam—Hindus, Muslims, Gorkhas, Adivasis etc. have revealed that the number of those who have migrated from neighbouring Bangladesh after 1971, the year when Bangladesh came into being as a sovereign state, are very few. The number of Muslims who have been excluded constitute only one third of the total, which has disappointed the BJP, because it has expected many more of this minority community to be excluded. Most of the excluded, Hindus and Muslims alike, are poor persons, who have not been able to maintain relevant papers owing to floods, riots, other natural calamities, attacks of pests etc. Another notable point is that two thirds of the excluded are Bengalis, which is a reflection of a nefarious alliance between Assamese chauvinists and Hindu communalists. Besides, the callousness of the NRC officials has led to grotesque results. The son is included but the father is not, the younger brother is included, but the elder is not, and such things have happened in innumerable cases. There have been quite a few suicides out of frustration and harassment, and the horrible situation in detention camps has led to quite a few deaths. How many more deaths will follow as a result of the decision of the government cannot be ascertained right now, but there is no doubt that they will be large in number.

There is no doubt that the government has felt emboldened by the Supreme Court's decision on the Babri Masjid. The apex court has evidently yielded to those who demolished the mosque in 1992, although there is no evidence, except blind faith of the Hindu fanatics, that there was a Ram temple there. The apex court has, however, opined that if the faith is genuine, it has to be respected. Put in plain terms, the judges of the apex court put blind faith above reason, rationality and evidence. When the apex court pursues the agenda of the RSS, the possibility of constitutionally resisting the NRC and CAB is thin. When the economy is in a severe crisis with rising unemployment and regular farmers' suicides, mainly due to the vigorous pursued policy of liberalisation and allowing the corporate bourgeoisie to loot the country's resources, and there are heinous attempts to impose the burden on the common masses, communal polarisation, of which NRC and CAB are instruments, may come handy to the rulers. They, with their elaborate network all over the country, are precisely sharpening this weapon. But its impact on the form of governance? As a leader writer has aptly commented in a leading English daily on the proposed all-India NRC and CAB, "A national apparatus dedicated to shouting up false citizens but only from a single religious community: this will be India's gift to modern governance. It'll be the Spanish Inquisition re-imagined with the aid of surveillance, big data and the reach of the modern nation State but directed, like its inspiration and predecessor, at treacherous minorities, pretending to belong." Only a nationwide mass movement can smash the venomous teeth of this apparatus. The movement has to be on all fronts; on the question of employment, just wages, fair prices for crops, loot of bank money and so on. 


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Vol. 52, No. 23, Dec 8 - 14, 2019