Convention on the NRC

Anirban Biswas

On 17 November, a convention on the NRC was held in the Kanchenjunga Stadium Hall, Siliguri, West Bengal. The convention was convened jointly by two organizations, PCC, CPI(M-L) and New Democracy, CPI (M-L). The speakers were Sailen Bhattacharya of PCC, CPI(M-L), Sushanta Jha of ND, CPI(M-L), Harka Bahadur Chhetri of Jana Andolan Party, Pulak Ganguli of CPI(M-L) (Liberation) and Jibesh Sarkar of the CPI(M). The resolution was read by Asish Dasgupta of ND, CPI(M-L). The following is an English rendering of the resolution.

The Modi government and its leaders, guided by the BJP-RSS combine, are repeatedly saying that foreigners’ infiltration is an important problem in India, and that is why they want to form a National Register for Citizens immediately over the whole of the country. They argue that by this, foreign infiltrators, particularly the persons coming from Bangladesh and Pakistan would be identified and sent back, and the names of actual citizens would be registered. In order to assure Hindus and frighten Muslims, they are saying that since the present law on citizenship does not permit any distinction on the basis of religion, they before the finalisation of the NRC, will alter the law by  bringing the Citizens’ Amendment Bill so that among those who have migrated to India from the neighbouring countries after a definite cut-off date, Hindus, Jains , Buddhists and Christians will be granted the status of refugees and allowed to settle in India, while the way  will be paved for branding Muslims as infiltrators and driving them out of the country. It is clear from the statements of the Modi government and the Sangh Parivar that they are against any sort of outlook favouring humanism or secularism or any law conforming to it. They want establish a Hindu rastra announced officially, to launch an all-out attack against Muslims , to create an atmosphere of hatred , thus divide the people on communal lines and to give rise to an atmosphere  of widespread anti-Muslim riots, to give and ubiquitous form to the incidents that are taking place in the name of mob lynching. Since they are politically motivated, they have no reasonable answer to the question why,  even after the existence of various identity cards such as the pan card, the Aadhaar card, the rations card, the voter card etc, the NRC project has been introduced by spending crores of rupees and that too at a time when the country is passing through a profound economic crisis. The RSS-BJP combine is continuously propagating that there has been large-scale Muslim influx from, as a result of which there is emerging a crisis of demographic change in India. They do not answer the question why even with such a large border security force deployed at the borders, there should be such a large-scale influx. The incident in Assam is a poignant pointer to the falsity of their propaganda. The list that has been prepared at the behest of the Supreme Court shows that the overwhelming majority of the 1.9 million of people whose names have been excluded are Hindus. Two - thirds of the excluded are Bengalis (including Hindus and Muslims) and one third is constituted by Gorkhas, adivasis and people belonging to other communities. Among those excluded, there is scarcely anybody to have come from Bangladesh after the base year of 1971. The majority of those excluded are poor persons who, on account of poverty and lack of education, are not in possession of valid documents. They have no means of preserving their papers from floods, other natural calamities and insects. The NRC process, forcing these people to run from pillar to post, has created an atmosphere of tremendous harassment for these persons. Somewhere the name of the father is in the list, but the names of sons and daughters are not. Somewhere the name of the husband is listed, but not that of the wife such episodes are leading to fragmentation of families and excluded members are finding their places in detention camps. Many have committed suicides out of desperation and some have died owing to the horrible condition of the detention camp. Fear of being branded as a D(doubtful) voter, of losing citizenship, of having to go to the detention camp have brought about a serious crisis to the lives of many. This is the upshot of the NRC.

As Assam is a frontier state, the situation in Assam has widely influenced the situation in West Bengal, particularly North Bengal. This is particularly due to the reason that the leaders of the RSS and BJP, including Amit Shah, are repeatedly threatening that after Assam, their next target is West Bengal. The apprehension that this is not an empty word but a real danger is strengthened when the CJI, Mr Ranjan Gogoi says that the NRC will be implemented in the who le of the country by introducing the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).

Hence the inhabitants of this state, having sensed the danger, are trying assiduously to collect their papers. Some feeble-minded persons have taken away their own lives. It has already been announced that from April, the work of National Population Registration (NPR) will start in West Bengal. This is the first step to the NRC. Some are projecting it as a regular Census work. This is incorrect because the notice for the Census has been issued on 16 March 2019 in accordance with the Census Law of 1948, whereas the notice for the NPR has been issued in accordance with the Citizenship Law of 1955 and the Citizenship Rule of 2003. Hence opposition to the NRC requires opposition to the NPR also.  It requires opposition to the CAB. During the period of the earlier government, an attempt was made to pass the CAB on a communal basis, but it has to be postponed because of lack of the required majority in the Rajya Sabha, or nationwide opposition. At present, the Modi Government is seeking to have it passed by parliamentary majority. The way the present judiciary is following the agenda of the RSS-BJP has thinned the possibility of constitutional opposition to it. So, the fear of the CAB and NRC is quite strong.    

Today, when a sordid attempt is under way to shift the burden of economic crisis on to the shoulders of the common people, when the people are unitedly trying to build up struggles for living, su8ch nasty drives to divide the people through NRC, CAB etc must be resisted effectively. The NRC is not only an anti-Muslim misdeed, but a deep conspiracy to keep the common masses in thraldom by creating fear among them, by harassing them. Hence it is necessary to create a united anti-NRC struggle by mobilising people irrespective of parties and opinion. It is necessary to unite the separate anti-NRC movements. Let us build united struggles and raise the cry

* Cancel the NRC project wholly,
* Withdraw the communal CAB
* Cancel the NPR programme
* Stop harassments in Assam in the name of proving citizenship, put an end to detention camps, protect human rights.

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Nov 21, 2019