Names of 40 lakh of 3.29 crore applicants are missing from the Supreme Court-mandated draft of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC). The draft was released Monday morning, the first update since 1951. Illegal migration from Bangladesh has been a steady flow. Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat warned of the security risks nearly a year ago.
But ‘General’ Mamata Banerjee, CM of West Bengal, soon to become ‘Bangla’, has her own take. She contests the NRC list. Her idea of annexation of a ‘Greater Bangla’ is to give every Bangladeshi who steps into India the right to citizenship. Her take on Rohingya presence in the region is that they are valid ‘refugees’.
Bengalis and Biharis have a very visible presence in the North-East. A good percentage of the Bengalis are intruders from Bangladesh. Mamata calls them “citizens unless proved otherwise”. BJP and the Indian army call them illegal aliens. Mamata says there are “people who have Aadhaar cards” and there are people “who have passports”.
It is very difficult to sift the wheat from the chaff. So, no decision has been taken on what to do with the 40 lakh. Will Bangladesh accept them just because a Supreme Court-ordained survey says they are illegal aliens? What about the Hindus among the 40 lakh? Will they be allowed to take idols of their Hindu gods with them to Bangladesh? There is no way the BJP will deport Hindu gods. Or will it?
Home Ministry officer in-charge of the northeast Satyendra Garg says those whose names do not figure in the draft NRC will not be sent to the foreigner tribunal or put in a detention centre. But those in the “complete and final” list could end up in detention centres, get pushed back, become stateless or get long-term work permits without land and political rights.
To common folk it’s hard to see how the Supreme Court can monitor such a huge exercise from Delhi. Of the 3.29 crore applicants, 2.89 crore have been accommodated in the list. Those left out are a powder-keg set to go boom! Imagine all 40 lakh of the “left-outs” marching Dandi-like towards New Delhi!
Assam has thousands of central forces to prevent any such exodus. The unrest in Assam at this point in time is bigger than any farmer unrest anywhere in the country. Social media is under vigil. Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland are in the penumbra. A blood red moon? The left-outs could flee any which way or forced to flee.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh says the report is “completely impartial” and that “some people are unnecessarily trying to create an atmosphere of fear.” The Centre is wary of repercussions. The Assam Government is wary. “This is a draft and not the final list,” says both governments. Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal says no one will be sent to detention camp. He is on test.
Weeding out illegal immigrants is not easy. The problem has spread beyond and outwards of the northeast. Gurugram is awash with thousands of Muslim migrants. The unprecedented growth of the city threw up job opportunities.
Jobs that the ‘well-off’ with bungalows and apartments in gated colonies see beneath their lot to do. From housemaids to what have you washer-men, presswallas and butchers. These are not the Nuh/Mewat Muslims who have been living in the region from before Babur’s invasion. Recent unrest over ‘Namaz in public places’ in Gurugram has been attributed to ‘Bangladeshi refugees’.
Mamata Banerjee is worried that ‘Bengalis’ will be pushed into West Bengal. She need not worry. The 40 lakh will spread out into every state. The Indian Railways was built for the purpose. No government can do much. Not even a BJP government.
Claims and objections will be filed. There will be episodes of violence. Columns such as this one will lean this and that way. So much so, Eiffel Tower will be counted among the straight. D-voters (doubtful voters), termed ‘foreigners’ by tribunals, and their relatives will vote. If not in 2019, then in 2024.
The 40 lakh are not going anywhere outside the sink-well called India. Even if large swathes of India have been turned into septic tanks. The Islamic transformation of India is not in the hands of the BJP and the RSS; the VHP and the Bajrang Dal. Not even in the hands of Mamata Banerjee. It’s written in the genes of humankind. Qayamat, when it comes, will come to for all, by all!
(Author is a senior journalist)