On August 31, Assam’s National Register of Citizens was published and it has taken away the sense of belonging from many.
In an exercise to weed out illegal immigrants, the government declared that those who want to be officially accepted as citizens of the country will have to provide documents to prove links with their ancestors who lived in the state many years ago.
Of the 3.3 crore people who applied for the ‘citizenship test’, around 19 lakh have not made it to the final list of NRC.
Assam first witnessed migration when it was under the colonial rule and then in 1947, when the country underwent partition. However, the majority of immigrants came from neighbouring Bangladesh when it won independence from Pakistan in 1971.
What Will Be The Fate Of Those Who Have Been Excluded?
As per the law, only Foreign Tribunals have the right to declare a person a foreigner. Those left out can’t be declared foreigners by the government.
They can appeal to the Tribunal for their inclusions and if they’re not satisfied with its ruling, they can move higher courts.
The government will set up 400 Foreign Tribunals at convenient locations in the state and people can approach these till 120 days from the date of publication of NRC.
This situation holds many hostage to fear, anxiety and despair. There are people who have been serving the country hitherto as Indians but may not have the necessary proof of their citizenship.
The fate of such people and their families is scarily uncertain.
Finally, those who will be declared illegal immigrants, after all the legal options are exhausted, will be detained in India’s first mass detention centre in Assam.
Here’s what it will look like.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah referred to illegal immigrants as “termites” in the past and claims to replicate the publication of NRC for other states as well.
While this practice aims to root out those who don’t deserve to stay, at the same time, it can turn into harassment for genuine citizens, many of whom will have to go beyond their means to endure the expenses and stress that the legal hassle entails.
Do you think there can be a better way to do this? Let me know in the comments below.
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