Wonder how it might feel to wake up one day, only to realise that you’re no longer a part of the country that you’ve been living in for years!
I recall the spine-chilling stories of the Partition that my grandmother often used to tell me. The soil they took birth on and grew up on no longer belonged to them and they were asked to vacate their homes.
This is the nearest parallel we can draw with respect to the recent National Register of Citizens (NRC) which was implemented in Assam and has rendered 19.6 million people as ‘Non-Indians’.
“Genuine” Indian Citizens:
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in the Rajya Sabha that NRC stands for ‘National Register of Citizens’ and is thus, applicable to all of India and not just Assam.
He further said that people of diverse religions need not worry as the NRC does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of religion and is just to enlist the “genuine” citizens of the country. The illegal imimigrants will be legally deported to their respective countries.
Who Is An Indian In Assam?
The process and criteria that was followed in Assam may differ from state to state. Yet, the bottom line may remain the same nevertheless, and here’s it-
Simply being born in India or having parents/grandparents of Indian origin is not the sole critirion for you qualifying as an Indian in the eyes of the law.
The criterion is, that your ancestors should’ve been born in India before 24 March 1971 i.e. on the eve of the Bangladesh War.
Also, you may be ‘disqualified’ from being an Indian even if your ancestors lived in the country prior to 1971, on the basis of birth certificates. Birth certificates can be rejected if they aren’t issued by the health department.
Absurdity With The Idea Of NRC:
In Assam, only those who were in the country before the cut-off date, were considered as being Indian.
What is this strange criterion of declaring a person as not belonging to a country, when he has been born and brought up there and is in his mid-40s at the moment?
Also, the fate of these ‘non-Indian’ people stands on slippery grounds. If decades after the War our country outcastes them and threatens to “throw” them out, where will these millions of people go?
If they aren’t Indians, there isn’t any evidence stating that they are Bangladeshis either. This renders them country-less in that case.
For now, the only alternative we have is to place faith in our decision-makers and hope that we continue to retain our identity as Indians.
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