The National Registry of Citizen or NRC is certainly one of the most crucial developments of this decade. Publication of the much-awaited final Draft of NRC had sparked a major socio-political debate across the country. While the hyper-secular and left-liberal nexus is busy trying to portray it as a saffron undertaking, they are employing every tactic by the book to demean and demonize the entire spirit of NRC to satisfy their political and ideological masters, but during these moments of ill-intent, what they have actually achieved is a momentary gain of deception and foul play with the sentiments of the people of Assam who have already undertaken numerous hardships and sacrifice to arrive at this crucial juncture history.
The entire country had once witnessed the famous six-year-long struggle of existence that people of Assam had valiantly fought to protect the integrity of Bharat. The fight to save the integrity of the nation that people of Assam had undertaken stood witness to the sacrifice of 855 martyrs and thousands of others who had suffered numerous accounts to make an adamant political party understand the plight of the indigenous fighting an existential crisis.
“Mr S.C. Mullan, ICS, Census Superintendent of Assam, wrote in 1931, "Probably the most important event in the province during the last twenty five years - an event, moreover, which seems likely to alter permanently the whole future of Assam and to destroy more surely than did the Burmese invaders of 1829, the whole structure of Assamese culture and civilisation - has been the invasion of a vast horde of land-hungry Bengali immigrants; mostly Muslims”
-Excerpts from the report submitted by the former governor of Assam Lt Gen S K Sinha to the President of India in 1998 titled: ILLEGAL MIGRATION INTO ASSAM
The Root cause:
To all those, who are little aware about the turn of events that sparked the entire Assam Agitation and that later ended with the signing of the Assam Accord on 15th August 1985 can only trace it’s root to 1978, when the Incumbent MP of Mangldoi Lok Sabha constituency suddenly expired resulting In a by-election and which later unveiled details about unnatural growth of voters while the Electoral Rolls were being prepared. But little are we all aware of what had actually caused this scenario in the first place and why did the popular culture even had to face this existential threat in the first place?... A critical examination of India’s pre-partition era traces the inception of this entire illegal migration issue to the establishment of AIML.
The Leadership of AIML will always be remembered for planting the seeds to divide India into religious lines. When in 1902 the first Oil Refinery of India was established in Digboi (Assam), it immediately caught the attention of All India Muhammadan Educational Conference, a predecessor of AIML (All India Muslim League), who were still brainstorming for a roadmap to divide the country into religious lines. Then when the AIML was finally conceived in the Dhaka conference of 1906, one of the chief patrons of the Newly formed AIML and then Nawab of Dhaka exhorted his 3,000 delegates to ensure an agenda-based migration into the valley of Assam, so as, their numerical strength in the region can be substantially increased.
The Modus-operandi that the AIML employed after 1906 potentially changed the entire socio-political discourse of the region for centuries’ to come. The impact of this was such that, the demographical status quo of the region drastically changed in accordance to the grand plan of AIML and claims for inclusion of Assam into East Pakistan started gaining momentum and as the demography substantially changed in their favour, it further legitimised their claims. At this point, even the Congress leadership along with Mahatma Gandhi had agreed to the demands of giving away Assam to East-Pakistan and hadn’t it been for the lone perseverance of late Gopinath Bordoloi, the Valley of Assam would have been swallowed into East-Pakistan and the indigenous of Assam would have faced the same dilemma that Hindu-Bengalis had faced during partition. Hence the people of Assam must always remember that how they narrowly escaped the faith of a partition victim.
The census reports of 1931, 1941 and records of the speeches delivered by Jinnah and other stalwarts of AIML stands testimony to these facts. What started as a plan to absorb Assam into east Pakistan didn’t died with the partition of India, rather their failure to include Assam into East-Pakistan instigated them further to hatch a new and a more elaborate plan to include Assam in the future. The PIP (Prevention of infiltration into India of Pakistani Nationals) act of 1962 will be remembered as the first major attempt by Government of India and Government of Assam to save the state from a agenda based infiltration of migrants at the behest of AIML and its offshoots that were posing a serious threat to the integrity and security of the region.
It was also observed by the authorities that some early settlers were not only helping these new infiltrators to mingle into the crowd but were also playing hand in hand to encroach vast stretches of unoccupied lands, which were usually community farms owned by the Tribal population in the region. Although the PIP act didn’t deliver expected results, owing to the non -cooperation of a sections of legislators, yet it will be recorded in history as the first major attempt to curb the menace of illegal infiltration in the region after which Updating of the NRC can be termed as a major step towards arriving at a concrete solution for the Problem.
Even the path towards this most viable solution of updating the NRC wasn’t free from hurdles and controversies, the major among them being the selection of the base year for Assam as 1971, while for the rest of India, the base year for determining citizens remains 1951.
The sheer size of the entire process of Updating the NRC was a challenge in itself as nothing on this scale was ever tried elsewhere in the country. A total of 68, 31,330 applications were received encompassing around 3.29 crore people of the state and the entire process involved around fifty thousand government employees of the state. Apart from being a technical challenge, the entire process also posed a major law and order challenge for the state. With many fringe elements at play and opposition political parties like Congress and AIUDF, whose vote base is often comprised of suspected migrants, employed every tactic possible to extract the maximum political mileage out the undertaking.
The Congress party went out to an extent, where its former CM Tarun Gogoi demanded inclusion of every individual in NRC whose names were featured in the 2016 electoral rolls. In an attempt to appease their primary vote bank, the Congress party went out to the extent of demeaning the entire spirit of NRC. It is important to mention here that after a tripartite talk held between the Government of India, Government of Assam and All Assam Students Union in 2005, a decision was taken to update the NRC of 1951. But the then Congress government lacked a strong political will to stand by its indigenous population and quickly rolled back its first NRC pilot project launched in Barpeta on 21st July 2010 after it turned violent and around five people were killed and another fifty were injured. The sole purpose of these fringe elements was to disrupt the entire process and somehow break the moral of the indigenous communities.
The entire motto with which these elements instigated violence somehow achieved its target and it was not until another half a decade that the entire NRC issue saw the light of the day. Apart from these internal challenges, a major attempt to demonize the entire spirit and image of NRC in front the international community came via an online campaign propagated through a popular digital campaign platform called Awaaz.org under the Aegis of “India: stop deleting Muslims”.
The campaign has so far has been successful in gathering around 8.25 Lakh signatures (as of 10th August) in its favour and is fast spreading across the countries of the Middle East, Europe and Australia. This particular online campaign on Awaaz.org is clearly another attempt to stall the entire process of Updating the NRC. The need of the hour is clearly to employ stringent countermeasures, so that, the actual reality reaches the international stage and such attempts can be thwarted in time.
There is no doubt that updating the NRC is one of the major achievements of this decade for the people of Assam and also a benchmark for other Indian states to thrive for, yet this is also a crucial juncture in History of Assam that has the potential to seal the fate of Assam as a greatest Boon or the worst Bane for future.
It is time for us to self-reflect and to debate every aspect of this process with an open mind, so that in a feat of momentary achievements we don’t lose sights of the dangers that Lurk in details, for if we lose this Last battle of Saraighat, our names would be remembered as those who failed to identify the devils residing in details and causing an irreversible damage to the future generations.
Once the Final NRC list is published and after every claim and objection is attended to, it is equivalent of a national duty for the citizens to ensure that names of illegal infiltrators are deleted from the electoral rolls and right to vote and land is reserved only for the genuine citizens of India.