More than 19 lakh of the 3.29 crore applicants in Assam were left out of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) that was published as per a Supreme Court-monitored exercise that took five years and Rs. 1,220 crore. Less than a fortnight after 19 lakh people in Assam were declared as foreigners, the Maharashtra Home Ministry is said to have identified a land in Navi Mumbai to build a detention centre for illegal immigrants till they are deported.
Though the administration has cleared that it is jnot related to NRC, the news of detention centre in Navi Mumbai has instilled a sense of fear in many as the Assam administration is already setting up a camp in Goalpara town with “separate living facilities for men and women”. This is the first of at least 10 detention centers Assam has planned for those whose name is not in the NRC list.
This gargantuan Supreme Court-ordered exercise to document Assam’s citizens has been strongly backed by the central government and it is also called a campaign that is aimed at Muslims, even those who have lived legally in India for decades. Many Hindus, mostly poor and ill-educated, are also not on the citizenship list.
This scenario has sparked so much fear in local population that after hearing rumors that her name was not on the list, Sayera Begum, a 60-year-old woman from the district of Sonitpur in northern Assam, jumped into a well and later died of her injuries. The question needs to be asked that who is responsible for this mass hysteria and panic in common Indian citizens.
The National Register of Citizens, or NRC – is unique to Assam and was first prepared in 1951. It also includes those whose names appeared in the 1951 document and their descendants. The list also includes those who had been on India’s electoral rolls up to March 24, 1971, or in any other document approved by the central government.
There are many cases where some members of the family are listed in NRC and some members of the same family are not that has sparked further confusion and paranoia amongst innocent civilians. Dipali Das, 42, found herself, her husband and her four married daughters on the list. But Das was sad because her 23-year-old son, Rahul, was excluded. She has said that she will put in an application for his inclusion.
The parallel drawn between BJP governments and Nazi Germany are getting true every passing day where minorities are threatened with detention centers and lists are being prepared of the “desirable” citizens. This is a dystopia where neither the Muslims nor the lower-caste Hindus are safe and it is time to ask the government the questions about minority rights as well as human rights. Those who remain silent at the time of injustice are with the oppressor, and the time has come for every responsible citizen to show his or her allegiance.