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OPINION | Assam Needs 'Correct' NRC, Not One 'Corrected' to Suit the Political Design

The BJP wanted to control the NRC exercise to suit its vote-bank politics but the Supreme Court has come in the way. Since its agenda has not been fulfilled, the party is making noises through a front and trying to discredit the NRC authority.

Harekrishna Deka |

Updated:August 31, 2019, 10:00 AM IST
OPINION | Assam Needs 'Correct' NRC, Not One 'Corrected' to Suit the Political Design
Illustration by Mir Suhail/News18

The NRC exercise is coming to some kind of an end and the Register will be on public view on August 31, 2019 as per the directive of the Supreme Court. Once the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is published, it needs to be treated as the primary document (emphasis) of Assam's Indian citizens for all future references.

I, as a native of Assam, am interested in a correct NRC, and not one 'corrected' to suit the political design.

The BJP wanted to control the NRC exercise to suit its vote-bank politics but the Supreme Court has come in the way. Since its agenda has not been fulfilled, the party is making noises through a front and trying to discredit the NRC authority. The Front deliberately targets Pratik Hajela, the Supreme Court mandated coordinator of NRC, to unnerve him. He must be given credit for maintaining composure all along. I will not say that the NRC prepared under his authority is completely error-free, but many vested organisations have raised noises with an ulterior motive. Some Hindu organisations are propagating that a large number of pre-March 25, 1971 Hindu migrants are left out by the NRC authorities and this NRC cannot be an authentic document.

On the other hand, many narratives are being circulated to suit the interests of the Muslim illegal migrants which, in sum, propagates that genuine Muslim Indians are being deliberately left out. Some of them are invoking humanitarian concerns in such a way that those not in the NRC are victims of persecution at the hands of the natives, who have been portrayed as xenophobic and their concerns as imaginary. These different narratives are to protect different interest groups and in this process the native humans have been made to look like malevolent entities.

These diversely different narratives seem to forget that massive illegal migration is a fact of history and such migration has taken place continuously, legally before, and illegally after, the partition of then British India. Regarding xenophobia, find out one community which is not sensitive to the 'others' squeezing their space that is considered a homeland.

When you weep for the migrants, do not forget the fears of the natives. Given the facts of history, the natives need to be accommodative to an extent which is pragmatic, and through the Assam Accord they have yielded this space to all the migrants legally or illegally entering into Assam till March 24, 1971. But the natives have genuine fear of being rendered a minority in their own land, overwhelmed by a migrant population that may eventually be the people ruling them. The anti-Assamese narratives have deliberately overlooked this or mischievously twisted these facts.

However, migrants also have human rights to security to life and livelihood as well as freedom from fear and so despite being foreigners they must be given security. But their claims of rights cannot be so unbalancing that the natives continuously suffer existential crisis.

Then there is Miya poetry, a literary movement which has appeared in the tense atmosphere, which brought about by divergent narratives arising from conflicting interests around the NRC. There should be nothing wrong in writing poems in one's spoken dialect where expressions have immediate appeal, but some practitioners of this poetry have become tools of a narrative that is politically using it as a weapon to prove the Assamese people as xenophobic.

These practitioners succumbed to a sob textualisation imposed on this poetry from outside, even linking it to the NRC. These poets allowed themselves to be swept away by the tide of a narrative that is trying to falsely impose a fiction of Rohingiya-type victimisation of the Muslim immigrants. A case has been registered against them, which should not, of course, stand judicial scrutiny. I think these poets are victims rather than conspirators.

All Hindus, Muslims and other communities must come to terms with the reality of the NRC, and instead of condemning the exercise, should accept it as the primary reference document for Assam's Indian citizens. Those who feel aggrieved should take the legal course with adequate proof. Needless to say, every stakeholder has a responsibility to maintain social harmony. The government has a specific responsibility to maintain law and order. Some leaders of the ruling party are making provocative remarks and this is unfortunate. It is their government at the helm of affairs and if provocation leads to ugly situation, the government will have to take the responsibility.

(The writer is former Assam police chief and president of Axom Nagarik Samaj (ANS), an organisation of retired government officials, social entrepreneurs and journalists. Views are personal)

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