“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
– Thomas A. Edison
Many a legal battle have been fought in the Supreme Court, before the apex court gave the nod, with parameters set, to go ahead with the task of updating the 67-year old National Register of Citizenship (NRC), 1951. Significantly, the legal battle did not end with the Supreme Court’s approval to go ahead with the process. Right from the word go, the updating process has been bombarded with umpteen number of litigations, primarily with the State Government at the wrong end. Despite the fact that the entire task is being carried out under the supervision of the apex court, the powers that be at Dispur, added to the process its own innovations and discretion, like the obnoxious ‘original inhabitant’ issue or the rejection of panchayat documents. While the Supreme Court came to the rescue of the people of Assam on these counts, the intention of the Government in adopting such measures on its own could very well be mala fide. Although the apex court has put the State Government on the dock over the two issues and the people have got the much needed relief, strong suspicion continues to lurk in the mind of a sizable section of the people that many more such obnoxious cards may be up the sleeves of the BJP-led Governments in Delhi and Dispur.
The two issues certainly point at the Government’s attempt to selectively cut down names of genuine citizens purportedly on the basis of religion. This fear among a section of the people has been further reinforced by the introduction of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2016 which envisages the bringing in of crores of Hindu nationals of foreign countries, mainly Bangladesh to India and have them settled purportedly in Assam. The two misdeamnours of the Government on the NRC front, coupled with the pro-Hindu Bill in sheer violation of the strong secular tenets of the Constitution definitely gives rise to the fear if a sinister roadmap has already been worked out by the saffron dispensation at the Centre and if unleashing of a Hindutva wave and laying the foundation of a Hindu rashtra is on the cards. The fear also lurks if creating a Rohingia-like situation on the western front of Bangladesh could be in the pipeline. While secular and non political organizations like the AASU and a few others are providing round the clock support and cooperation to the NRC authority for publication of a fair NRC with midnight of March 24, 1971 as the cut off date in determination of Indians, the Government’s intentions appear to have extra-constitutional motives.
As of now, the possible motive on the part of the powers that be in Delhi and Dispur has seemingly occupied the centre stage on the international front. Allegation on the Government taking to highly discriminatory moves against minorities, mainly Bengali speaking Muslims of Assam, rings so loud that on the basis of the report submitted by its Rapporteurs, the UNO has shot off a letter to the External Affairs Minister Shusma Swaraj seeking clarification. As pointed out above, it is the Government with its questionable moves, that brought the NRC issue laced with the Bill under the UN scanner. It is the Government that has provided the UNO the necessary ammunition to put its radar on alert. Will Delhi rise to the occasion?