The NRC for State of Assam was finally released on 31 August 2019. The process of 6 years finally culminated and left out over 19 lakh citizens of the state. There have been statements from ministers to allow for legal trial & assistance to ‘foreigners’ by tribunals but must apply before 120 days.
The NRC was released in 1952 after first census after Independence. Post-Independence partition saw large influx of foreign nationals into the country, especially North West & North East frontiers. ‘Operation Searchlight’ of 1971 undertaken by Pakistan army drove millions more from east while East Pakistan into porous borders of North East. In 1978, all the Assam student’s union perturbed by presence in electoral rolls started the ‘Assam Aandolan’. The region and its people wished to protect their tradition culture religion. Although the elite & rich, modern of the State look down upon social evils they do not remain deterred to uphold pristine purity of their identity. Driven by pressures on agriculture, opportunities etc., the ‘Assam Aandolan’ came to an end in 1985 by ‘Assam Accord’. Since then the area has seen sneering resistance to outsiders to protect their societies. While this may be a justified struggle undertaking exercises to delete, deport & detect such ‘outsiders’ that too without planning & pragmatism has proved futile.
As promised to the All Assam Students Union, the exercise of NRC has proved devastating to those termed ‘stateless’. Remaining options for their future seem unsuitable to their human rights.
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The assurances of Foreigner Tribunals and legal aid is unsound as in the past these have been arbitrary and unprofessional. The judges are not of experience and do not follow due process of law. Detention centers are not a permanent solution and an ‘outsider’ cannot be locked indefinitely. The negotiations with Bangladesh have not happened as the NRC is termed an ‘internal matter’. Offering partly citizenship rights to them will always place then under surveillance of agencies.
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The ultra-nationalistic tendencies have led to xenophobia. In todays age of modern societies, globalization, rapid movement-it is incorrect to see citizenships in a narrow lens of blood or religion. Human resources are always a boon if it is utilized well. The way forward is to ensure that the ‘outsiders’ receive the rights they deserve.