By- Kamal Baruah
Maulvi Saiyid Sir Muhammad Saadulla was selected as a premier of Assam by the British in 1937. He brought lakhs of people to Assam for agricultural works. There was very cordial relation at the border villages. After partition, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) is born. CPWD entrusted working for installation of Border Post leaving 150 gauge after IB. But Bangladesh Rifles did not cooperate and fired, resulting in casualty. The border fencing work got hampered. Family separation at the border is a critical issue. Infiltrators started pouring to Assam, Tripura and Bengal for opportunity. BSF failed to guard the Indo-Bangla border due to porous and hostile terrain. Millions of immigrants had entered and encroached our land and govt reserves. Political parties with vested interest took advantage establishing refugee camp on the name of humanitarian cause. People had to sell their borer land to doubtful citizen of their agricultural aggression. And official machinery kept a blind eye for issuing land patta.
Foreigners, who come into India without valid travel documents, or stay beyond their visa period, are considered illegal migrants. But certain exceptions have been made over the years. In Sep 2015, it says illegal migrants coming on or before Dec 31, 2014 were allowed to stay. And this exception was sought again in July 2016. Anybody who is born in India, has an Indian parent, or has lived in India for over 11 years, is eligible for Indian citizenship. Illegal migrants do not fit this category. Our Constitution does not allow dual citizenship. But Person of India Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) enjoy certain rights in India, on par with Indian nationals.
Mangaldoi parliamentary election 1979 had historic perspective that turned Assam to fight for their existence. The election commission found 45,000 cases of objections in the voter list. It witnessed huge political instability during 1979-1985 (Assam agitation on illegal foreigners) from collapse of state govt to president’s rule and unprecedented ethnic violence. Then Rajiv Gandhi government signed a Memorandum of Settlement with the leaders of AASU and AAGSP on 15 August 1985. Assam accord defined the evolution of citizenship statutes. As per this accord foreigners who entered Assam between 1951 and 1961 were to be given full citizenship including the right to vote. Migrants those entered after 1971 were to be deported and those who entered between 1961 and 1971 were to be denied voting rights for ten years but would enjoy all other rights of citizenship.
The Assam Accord is in contrast to Article 6 of the Constitution where cut-off for determining citizenship in India is July 19, 1948. Several petitions filed in the SC against the constitutional validity of the Section 6A in the Citizenship Act. Those Hindus from Bangladesh fleeing to India to escape persecution have been living in NE and Bengal since long without citizenship rights. Are they needed to be protected by law in our country? The tasks of Foreigners Tribunal Assam detect-delete-deport have identified almost 20,000 foreigners but it becomes impossible to deport them. However deportation has not been discussed between India and Bangladesh at any level so far.
Successive government at the centre as well as the stage govt were not initiating to solve its true implementation. AASU kept fighting with the government for the core issue of NRC. But in 2009, Pradip Kumar Bhuyan filed a petition at the Supreme Court on NRC draft. APW fought his case to the Apex court. In December, 2014, a two-judge Bench of Justices Rajan Gogoi and RF Nariman suggested the matter to be put before a five-judge Constitution Bench. The central government decided to ensure time-bound implementation of all clauses of the Accord with special focus on Clause-6 of the Assam Accord states that central government will come up with constitutional, legislative and administrative measures to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the indigenous communities of Assam. Finally on 30 July National Register of Citizenship (NRC) draft has left out 4 million names who failed to provide legacy data.
NRC since 1980
1980 20 Jan AASU submitted memorandum to then PM Indira Gandhi
1986 AASU submitted the modalities of NRC to state govt
1999 AASU submitted the modalities of NRC to state and central govt
1999 17 Nov Tri-party meeting with official agreed to protect NRC by releasing Rs 20 lakh
2005 5 May Tri-party meeting with PM finally agreed to protect NRC
2009 20 Jul Assam Public Works file PIL at Supreme Court naming 41 lakh illegal immigrants at 2006 Voter list
2010 Home Secy GK Pillai signed the Pilot Project for NRC at tri-party sitting
Barpeta and Chaigaon selected for implementation but it was stopped due to violence in 21 Jul 2010
2013 2 Apr The PIL 274/2009 by APW has finally been sent to Justice Ranjan Gogoi for justice
2013 5 Sep Govt accepted the NRC modality
2013 31 Oct SC take over the entire responsibility
2014 5 Feb Established NRC Constitution bench
2014 17 Dec SC put time bound implementation to complete the entire process from issuing form to end of submission
2015 Application for NRC accepted during May to 31 Aug
2017 31 Dec NRC draft 1 published as per SC deadline where 1.9 crore applicant found their name
2018 30 Jul Complete NRC draft announced. With a total of 3,29,91,384 applicant, 2,89,83,677 included and 40,07,707 names are deleted.
Assam finally shows India the way. But opposition in the parliament cry foul over NRC. Rajya Sabha adjourned. We believe putting Indians first in India. A recent threatening by Bengal CM on NRC is totally unacceptable. The peace loving Assam won’t fall prey to such political vultures. Assam’s demography is changing. There are still a huge numbers of infiltrators who did not apply on NRC process. The continue influx of Bangladeshi posed a threat to the integrity and security of NE region. Even cities of other parts of India are being infiltrated by suspected citizens. We taxpayers can’t continue bear the additional expense for supporting illegal migrants. Our parliament should come out their position on the policy of immigration. US president Donald Trump planned to deport 3 million illegal Mexican. Now the next step remains its implementation. Assam accord defines the evolution of citizenship statute. The names of infiltrators are to be deleted and they are to be deported. The work fencing of Indo-Bangla border is to be completed on war footing with barbed wire. Clause 6 of Assam accord must be implemented to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the indigenous communities of Assam. Can NRC Assam be a model formula for entire India in the future?