ANUP SHARMAGUWAHATI , August 31, 2019
Hours after the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) excluded 19,06,657 people from the updated citizens’ registry, New Delhi based Rights and Risk Analysis Group (RRAG) termed it as largest such incident making people ‘stateless’ in recent times.
RRAG director Suhas Chakma said that the statistics is followed by declaration of about 9,75,000 descendents of Indian origin Tamils as ‘non-nationals’ in Sri Lanka in 1948 and the decree making an estimated 800,000 Rohingyas stateless under the 1982 Citizenship Law of Burma.
The list is followed by declaring about 4,00,000 Bihari Muslims in Bangladesh as non-citizens in 1971 and expulsion of 3,90,000 Indian origin people by Myanmar in 1964.
“If the Foreigners Act of 1946 is to be followed, the excluded people await immediate arrest and imprisonment after they were declared as foreigners by the FTs unless the orders of the FTs are stayed or overturned by the Guwahati High Court or the Supreme Court,” he said.
Chakma said that the narrative of Assam being swamped by influx of foreigners is based on the migration from 1901 to 1971 when Assam’s average decadal population growth rate of 23.95 percent was almost double of All India’s 12.90 percent.
“But those who came to India before March 24, 1971 have already been accepted as citizens of India as per the Assam Accord of 1985,” he added.
“However, from 1971 to 2011, Assam’s average decadal population growth rate of 20.90 per cent, which is lower than country’s average of 21.94 percent,” he further said.
Also read: Assam NRC appeals ruin applicants: Report
He also added that this implies that there is no noticeable influx of foreigners during this period.
Chakma justified that the NRC is not about identification of foreigners but a process to punish those who do not have documents of their own or of their forefathers to prove as residents of Assam prior to March 24, 1971.
He said that 66 per cent of the people of Assam were illiterate as per 1971 census.
“This means that 66 percent of the people in Assam in 1971 did not possess educational certificate which are also used as birth certificates,” he said.
He further added that the poor, illiterate, landless people of 1971 or their descendants have faced the most serious difficulties to prove their legacy.
The organization also appealed the Indian government to consider the issue afresh, stop the criminal prosecution of the excluded people under the Foreigners’ Act and resolve the crisis based on the past practices of India accommodating expelled Indian origin people by Myanmar or Uganda or foreign countries like Sri Lanka, Fiji etc.