Recently, the complete draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC) was released in Guwahati by the Registrar General of India. Out of the 3.29 crore people who had filed applications for NRC, 2.89 crores found their names in the final draft list and nearly Forty lakhs were left out of the list.

NRC contains the names of bona fide Indian Citizens (of Assam) that distinguishes them from the foreigners. It is updated periodically. However, in Assam, the updation could not be carried on since 1951 due to various political compulsions. But after the Supreme Court judgment (2014), NRC is now being updated in a time bound manner to incorporate Assam Accord of 1985 in order to tackle the issue of illegal immigration from Bangladesh.

However, since the release of the draft NRC, there has been an attempt to politicize the issue by certain political parties, and to grab the opportunity to ensure the minority vote banks. It was reported that after the draft release, Assam has largely remained peaceful however uproar was seen majorly in Parliament. Trinamul Congress president Mamata Banerjee has led the opposition protest perhaps because of the fear that the similar step in West Bengal could affect her minority vote bank in future.

Before jumping to any conclusion, let us check the quick facts as to why this process i.e. the updation of NRC is being carried out: 1. Issue of identity- The move can solve the problem of identity crisis being faced by the local Assamese population due to influx of migrants from Bangladesh and Nepal, 2. Reducing pressure on resources- The identified illegal immigrants could then be deported back to their respective countries thus reducing the pressure on natural as well as economic resources of the state, 3. Political stability- The updated NRC would also resolve the issues raised by All Assam Student Union (AASU) and other groups further giving way to a peaceful political situation in the state, 4. Security issues- Illegal migration also poses security issues (arms and ammunitions smuggling, fake currency etc.) which shall be resolved after the completion of the process of updation of NRC.

For a rational minded person, the aforesaid points lead to the opinion that updation of National Register of Citizens is important not only for the livelihood, stability, and peacefulness for the original residents of Assam but also for the unity and integrity of the entire nation. However, on account of parochial interests, opposition parties have made it an issue of vote bank politics.

In the 1980s, Assam observed a reactionary movement, led by All Assam Student Union (AASU), who were instigated by various cultural, political & economic threats (like loss of jobs in favor of the immigrants). In 1985, a memorandum of settlement called Assam Accord was signed between Rajiv Gandhi led Union Government and AASU. As per the accord, foreign nationals were to be identified and be sent back to their home countries. But this could not be practically executed owing to certain political interests of the then Congress led Government. However, since 2014 the Narendra Modi led Union Government has meticulously and transparently carried out the process. And now, when the draft NRC has been released, opposition has realized that this move could pose a threat to their political existence in Assam.

Despite the firm statement of Registrar General of India that the entire process was completely transparent, objective and meticulously carried out, they have started questioning the validity and sanctity of the entire process. Moreover, it has been reiterated by the Government of India that the list is only a draft and not the final one; and the remaining forty lakh applicants whose names did not appear in the list would be given ample opportunity through a process of claims and objections, and their citizenship status would not be questioned till the error-free draft is prepared.

It must be acknowledged that today, when several developed nations are facing refugee crisis from their neighborhood, India being a developing nation which is already overpopulated and facing resources crunch cannot sustain the load of foreign nationals. Otherwise, the affected areas might observe the law and order problems which could further give rise to civil war like situation. It is high time the leadership of political parties stood for a united, peaceful and developed India. The love for infiltrators might destroy the social fabric of the nation and may prove fatal.

Anuj Pahal
Anuj Pahal is a social activist with broad, deep experience in print and online writing, publication and site management, news coverage, and editorial team management.