TMC holds protest over National Register of Citizens issue in Assam

Indian or not? Muslims in Assam fret amid drive against illegal immigrants

"It was a demand that arose during the Assam andolan [of the 1980s]". Yet, the Assam Accord of 1985 did not contain any specific mention of updating the NRC. But the people who have voted for us today are living in fear thinking as to whether they will be in the NRC.

The Congress had denied the charges labelled against it by the BJP. No significant step was taken even during Atal Behari Vajpayee government although BJP fought election with the promise that illegal Bangladeshi migrants would be rooted out from Assam. The commission aims to complete the process by 2018. "So instead of shouting over the NRC, the TMC should take lessons from it", said the BJP leader. Following the assurance, in June 2010 a pilot project was initiated in two revenue circles - Barpeta and Chayagaon. The student group spearheaded the movement to update the NRC.

Notably, the initial publication of the register has caused confusion to the people of the state as many legal residents of Assam have not found their names in the list.

Migrants have always been accused of illegally entering the state from Bangladesh and taking land, causing tensions with local people and sporadic outbreaks of communal violence. "In case even that does not show our names, doors of Supreme Court are open", said Ajmal. But upon the request of the State Coordinator, the Court agreed to extend the deadline by two years. "It is good that my name doesn't figure in the first list, it will give confidence to all others whose name has not been included in the NRC as yet", he added. But the hope that their names might appear in the next list has kept them from protesting violently against the NRC. No person who is a genuine case will be left out. So far, only 1.5 lakh of the 5.5 lakh documents sent out for verification have been reportedly returned by other state governments. “I fail to understand why the State government did not expedite the NRC update process.

"All will be treated equally and given opportunities to prove their citizenship so that their names could be incorporated in the subsequent drafts of the NRC". "A mechanism has to be evolved by the central government on what to do with them", he said. Bangladesh has consistently denied that its citizens have illegally emigrated to India. Aware of the fact that India and Bangladesh do not have any deportation treaty, he said, "The issue of deportation will come later". In the absence of any agreement under which Bangladesh agrees to take back its citizens, the Government of India can not do much except push a few illegal migrants across the border.

"Only those declared by Foreigners' Tribunals as foreigners are kept in the detention centres", he said.

A six-year agitation demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants was launched by the AASU in 1979.

The country's principal opposition party, the Indian National Congress, urged the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP to clarify why it did not publish the entire list by the end of 2017, as ordered by the Supreme Court.

"Illegal migrant" is a terminology to target Bengali-speaking Muslims who have been settled in Assam for generations.

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Assam Public Works, an NGO in the Supreme Court in 2009 made much difference as the issue of foreigners reached the Apex Court which subsequently issued several orders for updating the NRC 1951 in Assam.

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