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National Register of Citizens – the biggest disenfranchisement exercise in human history

NEW DELHI: About 40 lakh people have been left out from the Final List of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) published today i.e. 30.07.2018 by the Government of Assam to identify the alleged illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. While the legal status of those excluded remains in limbo, the Ministry of Home Affairs stated that neither any reference case will be sent to the foreigner tribunal nor will any person be put in a detention centre.

“The National Register of Citizens is the biggest exercise for disenfranchisement in human history. This NRC has few parallels such as expulsion of 300,000 Indian origins persons by General Ne Win of Myanmar in 1960s, expulsion of over 80,000 Indian origin people by Idi Amin of Uganda, the denial of citizenship to over 500,000 Indian origin Tamils by successive governments of Sri Lanka and in the last three decades, the expulsions of the Rohingyas by Myanmar.”- stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of the Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG).

Terming the NRC process not meeting the litmus test of equality before law, Mr Suhas Chakma stated,

The eligibility criteria for inclusion into the NRC failed to define “original inhabitants of Assam” who or whose descendants had to clear only “reasonable doubts” of the registering authority while non-original inhabitants had to clear beyond “reasonable” doubts. Further, the eligibility criteria did not include the provision of Section 3(1)(a) of Citizenship Act, 1955 which states that “anyone who is born in India on or after the 26th day of January, 1950 but before the 1st day of July, 1987 is an Indian citizen irrespective of legal status of his parents“.

The descendants of the Tibetan refugees have been granted Indian Citizenship under Section 3(1)(a) of Citizenship Act, 1955 and they have been voting in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand etc. The same law has not been applied in the NRC process.

The chances of deportation of illegal immigrants under the NRC to Bangladesh are nil as the Government of India has never taken up the issue of deportation of those being identified under the NRC with the Government of Bangladesh. Any deportation shall have direct implications on the Awami League government of Bangladesh which is considered a pro-India government and bilateral relations.

“As the chances of deportation to Bangladesh are nil, the NRC therefore only ends up disenfranchisement of undefined “non-original inhabitants of Assam” with serious implications on their rights and human development.” – further stated Mr Chakma. [Ends]

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