The National Register of Citizens (NRC) was meant to solve the immigration problem in Assam but it has ended up complicating it even further.
What’s more problematic that an issue which was made out to be much more catastrophic for Assam than it really was, has taken up more of our headspace and grabbed more headlines than the real problems in the state including the yearly floods which have led to the countless loss of life and property.
The final figure of around 19 lakh people not included in the NRC is way below the numbers that we had heard for at least the past 10 years. One report also mentioned that a number of those excluded from the NRC might be dead which may reduce the numbers even further.
There is also a redressal process to look forward to which will seek to look into complaints about genuine citizens being excluded from the list.
Within many families in the state, there are various cases of some members being included in the list while others find themselves out of it.
It is pretty clear that the number of people excluded will go down and not up after the appeal process is completed at the foreign tribunals, high courts and Supreme Court. And it is not as of this process will be over anytime soon. No one knows how much time it’s going to take.
Crores of rupees have been wasted on this exercise which was deemed as a one-stop solution to preserve the culture and identity of Assam by identifying and driving out the so-called termites out of the country.
Politicians accused each other of allowing Bangladeshis into the state to initiate a demographic and cultural change and increase their vote banks to stay in power. They quoted figures of 50 lacs to even 2 crores while the final number appears to be a fraction of that. What do they have to say now?
At present, there is absolutely no clarity on what is meant to happen to those who are ultimately excluded from the list.
Will they be thrown out of the country? If yes then where are they supposed to go since the Bangladesh Government has not made any commitment to accept them?
Will they be dumped into camps near the border? Will they stay in their homes but be denied voting rights? Will they become stateless citizens?
What about those who were born in India before the 1st of July 1987 and have stayed in this country even if their parents had come from Bangladesh or some other country? Are they not Indian citizens as per the Citizenship Act 1955?
And if these people somehow end up staying here, whether in their homes or in camps, what will happen to their future generations? Will we treat them as stateless citizens as well? Will, they are not easy prey for anyone who wishes to exploit them?
Couldn’t the state have spent at least some of this money to seal the international borders all those years ago? What had stopped them from doing so?
Now that all this has been done, we need to get back to the more important problems facing the state because it is pretty clear that the NRC has exhausted all its utility.
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