The worst thing that can happen to any citizen of the country is when his nationality comes under suspicion. The state of Assam, sandwiched amidst the seven states of North East, has been going through serious hardships as each resident of the state has come under strict scrutiny and their eligibility as Indian is being questioned. The National Register of Citizens or NRC came to the scene back in 1951 which recorded the names of Indian Citizens. However, a demand for scrutiny of the whole list came when it was realised that many non-Indian immigrants (especially from neighbouring country Bangladesh) were unduly using the opportunities of an Indian including jobs, voting rights and such.
The revised NRC list is meant to find out the number of immigrants in the country after 1971. Deliberations are going on, regarding what needs to be done with those who took refuge in the state after 1971. Comments and suggestions are flowing from different parts of the country as well as the world. So it was expected that Mamata Di would also put forth her comments as being the leader of the neighbouring state of West Bengal.
In both the Houses of Parliament, Mamata Banerjee and her team brought forth the fact that about a crore of people out of three crore population of Assam has not found their names in the draft NRC of 2018 which was recently published. She claims that those people are mostly Bengalis and is suspecting that the NRC is going to bring in communal distress in the state. In a public meeting held in Birbhum district of West Bengal, the Chief Minister of the state reportedly claimed the NRC as a treacherous attempt to drive out Bengalis from Assam and took a firm stand to not remain silent if such a case happens. Of course, this was not taken easily by Assam. While the commoners are fuming over this comment, the Assam government, as well as many other political parties and dignitaries, are seeing this as Mamta’s attempt instead to bring chaos in the state.
The repercussions over her statement did not end just in comments. A senior advocate based in Guwahati filed an FIR against Banerjee stating that her comments contained “… inflammatory materials which promote or attempt to promote enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc residing in the state of Assam.”
Asaam has been one of the most diverse states of the country. Accommodating people from all walks of life and all parts of the world, the harmony of Assam has persisted despite numerous threats towards it. In this situation, the comment passed by West Bengal CM might have triggered a feud between Assamese and the Bengali residents provided the fact that there had been instances of such feuds in the past.
However, the aim of NRC is to find out the level of immigration that has happened since 1971. It will be wrong to blame Assam as intolerant. Everything has some limits. Assam is unduly taking load of immigrants while the rest of the country fails to even recognise it as a part of India. Yes, it is true that we gave refuge to the people of then East Pakistan during its fight for independence from West Pakistan. But is it right to unduly take advantage of Assam’s generosity? As someone hailing from the state, I am quite sure of the level of respect the diverse communities have for each other. Whenever there has been any clash, one way or the other it has been triggered by some political competition. Political motives at the behest of the harmony of the country can be disastrous; the Partition of India is a burning example.
Assam is no dumping ground. Instead of blaming the state, why not make the other states take a bit of its load? What needs to be done is to wait for the final draft of NRC that has promised to include the names of those who were not included in the first draft. Till then, the state needs to be cautious regarding the diverse comments that are flowing in and out of them, some might turn out to be provocative.