The NRC process will be carried out across India, Home Minister Amit Shah said in Rajya Sabha today while making it clear that there would be no discrimination on the basis of religion.
Amit Shah also said that the Government accepts that refugees – Hindu, Buddhists, Jain, Christians, Sikhs and Parsis – who left Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan due to religious atrocities should get Indian citizenship.
In Assam, the NRC process was carried out as per Supreme Court order, he said and added that when the NRC process will be implemented in the entire country Assam will also be included.
Why Amit Shah is stressing on implementing NRC?
An expanded and improved NRC implemented in stages is key to effectively monitor and control illegal immigration; its most important effect being its deterrent value, staving off future illegal immigration and acting as a restraint to the votaries of vote bank politics.
The usual nay-sayers called NRC as an anti-Muslim witch-hunt, and alarmists stoking fears of human rights violation.
To make a valid and rational evaluation of the NRC and counter its critics, we need to recollect the historical antecedents of illegal immigration in the north-east, mull over the construct of this decree, and analyse the figures generated by the current update.
The problem called Illegal immigrants:
The migration of indigent Muslim peasants from undivided Bengal to the fertile areas of Assam can be traced back to the 1800s and was instigated by the British.
This flow of immigrants has continued unchecked since then to the present times despite the altered geo-political conditions that saw Assam and Bengal fall on different sides of an international border, effectively making this relocation an illegal process.
In 1998 Lt-Gen SK Sinha, the then governor of Assam, in a landmark report submitted to the President of India titled ‘Report on Illegal Migration into Assam’, outlined the dangers posed by illegal immigration into this sensitive border state.
In his cover letter he wrote: ‘Large scale illegal migration from East Pakistan/Bangladesh over several decades has been altering the demographic complexion of this state. It poses a grave threat both to the identity of the Assamese people and to our national security.’
While the exact number of illegal immigrants remains unclear, a reasonable estimate suggests that there are anywhere between 10 and 20 million illegal immigrants with Assam and West Bengal being the states most affected.
Successive governments (both UPA and NDA) have confirmed this; SriprakashJaiswal, Union minister of state for home affairs in the UPA government, indicated in 2004 that there were 12 million illegal Bangladeshis with 5.7 million in West Bengal alone; more recently, KirenRijiju, minister of state for home affairs in the NDA government, put the figure at around 24 million.
Illegal immigration is not an illusion or a fantasy of right-wing fanatics but an undeniable reality with serious ramifications for our internal stability and national security and cannot be wished away.
The history of India’s Partition in 1947 and the subsequent India-Pakistan War in 1971 clearly show that Hindus were persecuted in neighbouring Bangladesh and many of them had to cross over to India because they were victims of violence there.
In Operation Searchlight carried out by the Pakistan army in 1971, Hindus were the main target, leading to their exodus.
There were 10 million Bangladeshi refugees in various camps in 1971, out of which 7 million were Hindus. This clearly shows that the Pakistani army operation was mainly against the Hindus.
In Bangladesh, even after its liberation, Hindus face violence at regular intervals.
The Vested Property Act in Bangladesh says that if a Hindu goes to India, then a Bangladeshi Muslim can legitimately take over his property.
This Act often incites violence against Hindus to drive them away from the country so that their properties could be taken over.
Why only Amit Shah and Modi Government can implement NRC and What will be the results?
Actually, the illegal migrants from Bangladesh after its liberation in 1971 were sent in a very planned and coordinated manner.
Once Assam and Bengal became saturated, they were asked to move to other parts of India. They also moved to other parts of India in search of employment.
Thus, one can find colonies of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in Delhi, Jaipur, Bangalore and many other places in India. This will make their identification in other parts of India quite difficult.
Secondly, the identified illegal migrants will be barred from voting in elections.
This is also an important achievement as these people will no longer be able to swing elections in favour of political parties who promise to legitimise their status.
Obviously, this is going to be politically controversial, as some Opposition parties have benefitted from them in the past.
Last but not the least, with this action the Indian government would be sending a message to all future illegal migrants that they are not welcome.
In the past, favourable regimes in the areas bordering Bangladesh encouraged illegal migration in the hope of reaping an electoral harvest. This often created a very difficult situation for India’s Border Security Force.
On the one hand they were supposed to stop illegals from coming into India while on the other politicians in border areas used to put pressure on them not to do so. Because of this very same reason if anyone can implement NRC, it will be Amit Shah and by the Modi Government, because they do not fear opposition when the matter is of national security.
Dr. Sindhu Prashanth