03 January 2018

Assam tensed over draft deportation list


Special Correspondent :
Tension is running high in the Muslim community across the Indian state of Assam fearing that most of them could be expelled, if their names are not included in the so-called citizen list. An estimated 40 percent of the Assam's population is Muslims.
After decades long debate, the Indian government on Monday published a draft list of citizens of its northeastern state of Assam indicating over one crore permanent residents as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.
The first draft of the National Register of Citizens [NRC] was published with the names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore total applicants in Assam, recognising them as legal citizens of India.
Earlier, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal has said Dhaka had no knowledge of it. "We didn't receive any information from Indian government, neither formally or informally," he said recently.
Echoing the same, Additional Secretary [political] of Home Ministry's Public Safety Division Abu Bakkar Siddique told The New Nation on Tuesday they have yet not got any information about forced deportation along the Bangladesh-Assam border [borders of the Sylhet Division and Tripura]. 
The human rights organizations, however, cautioned that millions of people could be "stateless" if the Indian government remains rigid on the decision. Prior to publishing the list, several hundred Muslims went to court apparently to prove their nationality.
But it is yet not sure whether their names would be included in the final list of citizens. It is to be noted that, thousands of Muslim nationals have been kept in the detention camps throughout the Assam in the last few years.
The next draft will be published as per the guidelines of the Indian Supreme Court -- under whose monitoring the document is being prepared. Its next hearing is in April while the entire process will be completed within 2018. Quoting statement of Registrar General of India Sailesh Apart, the international media yesterday reported that apart from 1.9 crore people, the rest of the names are under various stages of verification.
 "This is a part draft. It contains 1.9 crore persons, who have been verified till now. The rest of the names are under various stages of verification. As soon as the verification is done, we will come out with another draft," Sailesh Apart said.
The application process started in May, 2015 and a total of 6.5 crore documents were received from 68.27 lakh families across Assam. The ground work for this list began in December 2013 and 40 hearings have taken place in the Indian Supreme Court over the last three years. Assam is the only state having an NRC, first prepared in 1951.
Al Jazeera reported: "Since the India's partition in 1947, Assam has been rocked by protests over 'illegal immigration' from across the porous riverine border with Bangladesh, increasing sectarian tensions and riots between the state's indigenous population and Bengali-speaking Muslim migrants."
 "In February 1983, more than 2,000 Bengali-speaking Muslims, allegedly illegal immigrants, were killed in Nellie in central Assam. In recent years, thousands of Bengali-speaking Muslims have been thrown in detention camps in Assam as "doubtful voters" and "immigrants," the Al Jazeera said.
Since 1951, all the segments -especially political parties of India - have reached in a consensus over the highly sensitive issue while several Indian government officials alleged that the Muslims, who came from Bangladesh, should be expelled.
Indian big political party the Congress has also welcomed the draft list ensuring that its workers would cooperate to exercise the process with "complete integrity, transparency and accountability".
Besides, the Indian BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] government said it has implemented a border management plan in conjunction with Bangladesh, but the Bangladeshi government has denied discussing the deportation of migrants with Indian officials.
The initiative to prepare the Citizen Register was taken forward after a tripartite consensus in 2005, between the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, then Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, and the representatives of All Assam Student Union.
The Hindustan Times yesterday reported that security has been tightened across the Assam state apprehending possible violence by those whose names are missing.
To prove one eligible, the citizens in Assam must provide documents proving that they or their family lived in the country before March 24, 1971 - a date that accounts for the migration of people from across Bangladesh [then East Pakistan].