Relevance of NRC in NE states

THOUGH controversy continues, albeit created by increasingly shrinking number of opposition leaders, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) published some days back in Assam has started to make those who matters most in other north-eastern states to stand up, feel the experience and mull over that this exercise might be the most effective mechanism to safeguard the native people from the impact of growing infiltration of both migrant workers and illegal immigrants. Few mainstream media and political leaders may have their own agenda in hyping fears, but it seems that there is nothing wrong in the NRC, at-least from the context of the north-east. So far, publication of the draft NRC has been evoking only sceptical commentaries in few national media whose attention appears to be drawn from the outbursts of some pretentious and emotionally-charged political leaders who are obviously trying to skirt the fact that among the lakhs left out of the NRC there are many genuine Indians whose only faults for missing the cut might be due to their casual perception over importance and purpose of the exercise or owing to procedural lapses, if any. There is also growing suspicion that those vehemently opposing the NRC are trying to blow up the exercise as inhumane despite the fact that neither the left-out lakhs, including substantial numbers of illegally settled Bangladeshi Muslims, would be hounded out; that is if they could prove their nationality, nor that the Central and state governments are involved in the citizenship update process, which is being carried out as per the supervision of the Supreme Court.

Notwithstanding the bid by certain political elements to rake up controversies, it is time that all those trying to create problem on the NRC issue acknowledge the fact that there has been no uneventful incidents anywhere in the NE region, with the exception of students and civil societies batting for a similar exercise in their respective states. With DESAM, ANSAM and AIMS, besides other organisations and public figures, making their intentions crystal clear that the government of Manipur too should follow the Assam model and start relevant process for updating citizenship of those settling in the state, it is comprehensible that NRC is being endorsed as one of the best means to check the constant threat posed to the indigenous communities. Though states neighbouring Assam would be the primary targets for those hoping to find new place of settlement, updating the NRC in Assam is already opening the floodgate of demands from these states as is evident from various organisations, the student bodies in particular, in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura, also clamouring for similar registry to insulate them from the ‘outsiders’. Here in the state, the Manipur Legislative Assembly recently passed the Manipur People Bill, 2018 that fixed 1951 as the base year for distinguishing the indigenous from non-indigenous. Pending approval of the Governor’s assent, amid objections raised from certain quarters, the state government may begin the process for updating status of all residents by doubling up its ‘Go to Village’ programme for compiling domicile records of the people, before some unscrupulous elements manage to corrupt the officials in naturalising residency of those fleeing from Assam.

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