Autumn Number 2019


Whose Baby Is It Anyway?

The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) headquartered in Sydeny, Australia, has found India to be one of the least peaceful in the region. India's global peace ranking deteriorates with every passing day. It cannot be otherwise as today India lives at many levels with social unrest leading to sporadic violence all the time. The buzz word in North East and Assam is denationalisation through the process of National Register of Citizens (NRC). When NRC mechanism gets completed 4 million people will be stateless in India's north-east, particularly in Assam. With such a huge population of dubious status—refugees or "illegal migrants" from neighbouring Bangladesh, peace will continue to elude India.

At the time of writing four persons reportedly died as thousands rushed across Assam for fresh National Register of Citizens hearings. People were asked to appear at new hearings, mostly in far off towns of upper Assam, 300-400 km away between August 5 and August 7 because the deadline for final NRC list was August 31.

The citizenship has always been a controversial issue in India. In truth the Citizenship Act 1955 is a half-baked legislation lacking clarity in defining citizens. The standard parameters of applying the princeples of 'by birth', 'by descent' and 'by naturalisation' don't work in this biggest showpiece of democracy.

As for Citizenship Question in Assam the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the centre as also in the state has decided to execute the policy of exclusion in such a manner that it is going to create a human catastrophe not in the distant future. The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 is out and out discriminatory, seeking to make drastic changes to the existing immigration norms. It is aimed at marginalising the already marginalised muslim population further. Simmering discontent in every muslim house! Peace is really a precious commodity in this region that witnessed some horrendous communal massacres in the yester years.

Come what may the bitter history of partition continues to haunt the ill-fated people of West Bengal and Bangladesh. The world's biggest exodus that started in 1947 immediately after creation of Pakistan—the miscarriage of British imperialism—at no point of time was reversed—it was unilear.

How does Assam NRC affect Dhaka is a million-dollar question? Strangely enough, India never officially discussed the NRC exercise and its fall-out with Bangladesh, leaving it to fate and uncertainty. What the ruling hindutva brigade in India wants is to disenfranchise mostly muslims who have long been naturalised while keeping at bay a limited number of Bengali-speaking hindus who migrated to India after March 1971.

Most national and regional parties have virtually given a walk-over to BJP in NRC matter. The BJP had even promised to repeat the NRC process in future, particularly in other parts of India. This would-be diabolical measure was aired, possibly to threaten West Bengal where 'illegal migrants' are a hard reality. 'Illegal migration' has something to do with vote-bank politics. The BJP is well-equipped to grill the maverick leader of Bengal over this issue. After all 'vote' doesn't follow market economy.

The entire process of denationalisation will create an unprecedented number of stateless people in this region and they are likely to face state persecution day in and day out.

While Bangladesh has been the eternal villain for making India the world capital for refugees, Bangladesh itself is now overburdened with Rohingya refugees, numbering no less than 1 million, living in make-shift hell-holes of camp life. They are unwilling to return to Burma despite UN intervention because they apprehend another round of genocide there. The Palestinian syndrome seems to have gripped India's North East and Assam and Bangladesh as well. The same is true of Sri Lankan Tamils. They fled state persecution and a prolonged civil war only to live as refugees and stateless people forever despite their Indian origin and ancestral connection. They were 'unwanted' guests in India.

As per 2013 census Muslim population of Assam in 2013 was 34.22 percent. Hojai district with 32.99 percent muslims, coupled with Morigaon (52.56 percent muslims) and Barpeta (70.74 percent muslims) will remain muslim majority districts, notwithstanding state persecution to deprive them of all constitutional rights, including voting rights. The government has used the most arbitrary method to declare any number of people D-Voters (i.e. doubtful voters). The D-Voter is a political tool solely based on baseless doubts and is used by the authorities to debar lakhs of maginalised people of a series of constitutional political and social rights, including the right to vote.

Hittler utilised gas chambers to eliminate Jews. It is not yet clear what kind of elimination the Modis will finally use to get rid of migrant muslims. The Updated final National Register of Citizens (NRC) was published on August 31, 2019 with over 19 lakh people finding their names excluded from the list. The persons in power heaved an audiable sigh of relief because the people of Assam have shown political maturity as there was no untoward incident across the state.


Back to Home Page

Autumn Number 2019
Vol. 52, No. 13 - 16, Sep 29 - October 26, 2019