The NRC exercise was much necessary for Assam and for once it should settle the issue of the number of illegal migrants living in the State which is used by many groups to keep the State in continuous unrest
The people of Assam and the applicants have gracefully accepted the results of the draft NRC exercise. They had cooperated fully in the course of the last three years when the task was undertaken and also after the results were published. There have been no untoward incidents in the state post the publication. The people of both the Brahmaputra Valley and Barak Valley have maintained the peace and friendliness as everyone understood that the State has to move forward after years of neglect and senseless violence. Even those who have been left out are looking to the next stages to settle their issues, and the errors that have crept in, apart from exclusions will hopefully be resolved in the following steps.
However, the spate of exclusions has set in motion among a few Opposition political parties a desire to question the integrity of the exercise and also blame the BJP which is ruling in both the Centre and the State. Even a section of the media has tried to give this a communal colour. As the whole exercise was undertaken under the guidance of the Supreme Court and headed by the State Coordinator chosen by the apex court, the ruling party did not influence the 68,000 employees of the State Government involved in the process. The Home Minister Rajnath Singh also clearly mentioned the fairness and neutrality of the process. Even names of a significant number of Hindu people have been missing in the draft list, and so the government has not indulged in any profiling action. So it is very imperative for those parties to behave responsibly so that the final NRC list is prepared correctly in the next few months. It is a known fact that many illegal migrants have made their names to the electoral rolls in the State and it is imperative that these parties support the move to eliminate them.
However, it is imperative for the next steps to be undertaken with caution so that no genuine Indians are left out. The Union Government in consultation with the State Coordinator will also submit modalities and standard operating procedures (SOP) containing the methods, timelines etc. for deciding the claims and objections before the next date of hearing on August 16 this year in the Supreme Court and the apex court has made it very clear that these processes have to be fair and transparent. Likewise, the final date for publication of the last NRC list will be decided by the apex court and December 31, 2018 was provided by the State Coordinator for budgetary purposes.
Likewise, modalities will have to be worked out also how to deal with the excluded list after the final draft is published. The numbers are going to be large and so how and where these people will be deported and rehabilitated will have to be addressed. Many issues of human rights will also set in and then there will have to be a well defined and fair method in handling these individuals. While the current move to give biometric IDs to these people might be a mode to track them, but a permanent solution has to be found as these people overnight can"t go back to any other country unless the process of deportation is concluded. India and Bangladesh do not have a deportation treaty, and neither will Bangladesh accept them without checking their integrity with their records.
Similarly, some of the current issues arising out of the publication of the draft NRC in the region also need to be addressed by the law and order perspectives. A few local bodies from the adjoining states like Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram have started frisking and harassing people who are travelling from and to Barak Valley through those states. A majority of people from the two Valleys in Assam have to travel via Meghalaya. So it is imperative for the Union Government to ensure that these states take strict action against such vigilantism. While Assam has remained peaceful, some of the elements in the neighbouring states are trying to create problems. The Police chiefs of the concerned states have already communicated in restoring normalacy.
The exercise was much necessary and for once should settle the issue of the number of illegal migrants living in the State which is used by many groups to keep the state in continuous unrest. Many of such shops will shut once the issue of illegal migrants is settled. Issues around identity always impacted the efforts or development in the State. With the efforts of the Narendra Modi Government to fast-track the Act East policy, the need for political stability is crucial for investments and engaging trade and commerce. So far the cooperation of the people of Assam has been exemplary and very supportive.
(The writer is a defence and securtiy analyst)