Kolkata: July 30 had been decided as the d-day for 3.29 crore applicants in Assam, who have been waiting with bated breath to check their names in the second and final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The list finally out today has about 40 lakh applicants left out in the doldrums. Reacting sharply to the exclusion of this many citizens, Chief Minister of Bangla, Mamata Banerjee, said, “It’s an agenda to throw out Bengalis and Biharis out of Assam. So, we are worried, as citizens with Aadhaar cards are being declared as refugees in their own nation. A team of MPs will be sent to Assam and if required, I shall also go.”
The AITMC supremo, during her press meet, maintained that this was an agenda to isolate Bengalis who have been staying in Assam since long. “It’s not just Muslims but Hindus are also being targeted. People with a Bengali surname are being specifically targeted. We share the border with Assam, so we will also have to face the brunt. Those who have been excluded are not Rohingyas but Indian citizens,” she maintained.
On being asked if Bengal government would give refuge to those who have not made to the NRC list she said, “We will think about that when the situation arises but first answer, why should so many be thrown out of their state?”
Maintaining that she had her faith in Indian judiciary, Bengal’s CM questioned the central government’s intention. She asked, “Why is the government of India silent on providing protection to those who have not made it to the NRC? Why have they not passed a law for the protection of these many people? What happens if Bangladesh refuses to take in these many people?”
She alleged that the NRC is an ‘unnecessary provocation being made for elections’.
Referring to TMC MPs protesting against NRC at the Rajya Sabha, she further questioned. “There is no reason to panic said the Home Minister, but can he explain why 15 companies of armed forces have been dispatched to Assam. Why has all mode of communication been suspended in Assam?”
Mamata mentioned that she would be speaking to Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister, citing the UN resolution which allows a country to give shelter to refugees in distress.
She even claimed that many with valid documents had been excluded from the NRC.
The issue had also been highlighted by an independent study carried out by United Against Hate, in Assam with regards to NRC. “The fact is that here the citizen has the onus of proving their citizenship, a huge uncertainty is looming over the Bengali-speaking people of Assam, both Muslims and Hindus. During our research, we realized that the worst affected in this case are the women,” said senior journalist Amit Sengupta, who had accompanied the fact-finding team in Assam.
Adding to that Nadeem Khan, convener of UAH said, “The discrimination in Assam is not on the basis of religion but language. While researching in Assam we came to know of so many Bengali speaking Hindus who had summoned by the foreign tribunals.”
However, BJP has maintained that no ‘bonafide citizen’ had been targeted. “Bengal’s Chief Minister is herself on a sticky wicket and hence is making a noise by dragging in the Bihari-Bengali angle. People will be given a chance to make claims and raise objections on the publication of NRC draft list,” Rahul Sinha, BJP national secretary said in an interaction with the Hindustan Times. Meanwhile, the home ministry has asked the Assam government to abstain from taking any action on the basis of the NRC draft list.