Three or Four Questions about NRC

Some Q & A on NRC. Might sound repetitive and self evident . But people need to be told, because some know too little, some know it all wrong and some are deliberately being informed all wrong.

Is the NRC exercise anti Muslim and anti Bengali?

A. No. Because amongst the people who failed to make it to the final DRAFT are people from different religious, ethnic and social backgrounds. While the cases of retired army officer Azmal Haque and descendants of Former President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed’s names missing from the draft are making repeated rounds in the ‘national media’, not many have heard of the case of Gauripur Royal family’s Prakritish Chandra Baruah, former MLA. This ‘untold list’ is long, diverse and illustrious too!

B. Besides, as different reports are gradually emerging, people from districts like Dhuburi, Goalpara, Barpeta etc (Muslim majority districts in proximity to Bangladesh) have mostly found themselves included in the final draft. Is this a moment of vindication or victimisation for them then? Is it hard to understand then, that for these people from these ‘usual suspicious belt’ often at the receiving end of chauvinism, NRC was seen as a much needed mechanism of validation and one that they have been actively mobilising in favour of? Yes, you heard it right. Please put it in your record that Muslims in Assam (besides other groups) had actively campaigned for a fair NRC.

Is the perspectives of the tribes/marginalised ‘indigenous’ groups missing from the whole debate?

Very much. Because who bothers about the opinion of a handful people, no matter however much they are a victim of partition and a colonialism that continued for them much after independence? Who bothers to know more about the ecological plot, the narratives of landlessness and internal migration, when you have to ‘fight’ textbook enemies like ‘communalism’, ‘linguistic chauvinism’?

Will the NRC process lead to human rights abuse?

Totally possible. And what will be new for a region whose modern history is constituted through violations of all possible rights? Trapped in a post colonial tragedy, history pits people against people, aspirations against aspirations, survivals against survivals. It will it be the state, its institutions and mechanisms that will fail if NRC is made into an excuse of abuse and a channel for a humanitarian crisis. But will it necessarily collapse into a humanitarian crisis? That very much depends on how the media, civil society, ‘all concerned voices’, people in general, keeps a vigil on the government and the state based on the RIGHT FACTS rather than hyperbole and selective demagoguery.

Bottom line is that there are complexities in this country that cannot be fit into ideological straightjacket or ready to serve linear narratives. Should the empathy for the stateless (although let us remember 40 lakh is a ‘draft figure’, yet to be finalised and there is no ‘official’ position on the ‘punitive measures’ to be taken) not essentially co-exist with empathy and concern for those coerced into sharing resources and habitats to waves and waves of immigrants? People here often ask, what is the ‘rest of the country’/ ‘the concerned voices’ doing about sharing the ‘burden of immigration’ from the Northeast? Where were these rabble-rousers, ’fact finders’ when the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 was proposed and Assam was reeling under protest? Or perhaps feeling for both (the one’s seeking a home and the one’s losing their homes and fields) compromises one’s ‘politics’?


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Kaustubh Deka Written by:

Kaustubh Deka teaches at the Department of Political Science, Dibrugarh University. Formerly he was a fellow at the Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy, Chennai.

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