CITIZENSHIP ISSUE CAN ONCE AGAIN BECOME A COMMUNAL FLASHPOINT IN ASSAM

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The names of nearly 5 million Bengali-speaking Muslims have been struck off the National Citizenship Register in Assam. — File photo

Various representatives of civil society groups on Wednesday made a passionate appeal to all the conscious and peace-loving citizens to come forward to save Assam from becoming another Myanmar.

Special Correspondent | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI —  Various representatives of civil society groups on Wednesday made a passionate appeal to all the conscious and peace-loving citizens to come forward to save Assam from becoming another Myanmar. They alleged that the present government led by the BJP in the state is segregating some 48 lakh women in the updation process of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) while the BJP and the VHP leaders are openly advocating for deportation of alleged Bangladeshi migrants in Rohingya style.

Addressing a joint press conference, noted activist Dr. Sandeep Pandey said the updation process of NCR in Assam is being carried out since 2015 as per the prescribed modalities with the fixed time frame under the monitoring of the Supreme Court. The tasks like the publication of documents, issue, and receipt of application forms have been completed and the process of verification is in progress. By and large, this gigantic operation is going on smoothly. However, he said, the Gauhati High Court’s ruling on February 28, 2017, declaring  Panchayat certificate as a private document in an individual case has provided an alibi to segregate Original Inhabitant (OI) from those 48 lakhs applicants to include them in draft NRC and publish partial draft NRC by  December 31, 2017.

It is to be mentioned here that the panchayat certificate is an admissible link document for married women as per modalities, 48 lakhs applicants have produced the same while applying for registering their names in updated NRC. It is pertinent to mention here that only one document from list ‘A’ (Legacy Data etc) and one from list ‘B’ (for linkage to the legacy holder) are received by the registering authority while receiving the application, although some applicants might have been able to produce other documents also.

It is alleged that the present government led by the BJP in the state is segregating some 48 lakh women in the updation process of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) while the BJP and the VHP leaders are openly advocating for deportation of alleged Bangladeshi migrants in Rohingya style.

The High Court order has been challenged by some individuals/Organisations in the Supreme Court, an interim order dated August 24, 2017 has been passed to segregate OI from those 48 lakhs applicants.   Dr. Pandey said the operation of segregation is going on but the definition of OI is not available in the Constitution of India, Citizenship Act 1955 or in the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) rules 20013.

Noted activist Dr. Sandeep Pandey, Dr. Sunilam Mishra (Social Activist and Ex. MLA, Madhya Pradesh), Faisal Khan (Social Activist, Delhi) Er. A Batin Khandakar (Social Activist, Assam) and Motiur Rahman (Social Activist, Assam) addressed the press conference in New Delhi.

“Under these circumstances, we have approached State Co-Coordinator, NRC requesting him to issue guidelines stating eligibility criteria for coverage under clause 3 of the citizenship rule 2003, as Original Inhabitant, just to make the segregation process free, fair and uniform throughout the state, he added.

However, till date, no guidelines stating parameters to be met up to be an original inhabitant has been issued by the State -coordinator and hence the ongoing process of segregation of OI is not free, fair and uniform throughout the state.

As the panchayat certificate is an admissible link certificate as per modalities, accordingly it is produced by the applicants like married women; therefore, they have every right to enter their name in the first draft of NRC. Until and unless, a chance to these applicants for production of their other admissible document is given, publication of partial draft is unfair to the married women.

Another 5 lakh applicants are “D” voters. Names of these “D” voters will be kept out of NRC until and unless their citizenship is cleared by the Foreigner Tribunals. Arbitrariness in marking D is evident from the example of retired Army Officers Ajmal Haque, Descendant of Freedom Fighters, and Retd Govt. Officers etc. All kinds of NRC dropouts will be automatically stateless.

Besides Pandey, Dr. Sunilam Mishra (Social Activist and Ex. MLA, Madhya Pradesh), Faisal Khan (Social Activist, Delhi) Er. A Batin Khandakar (Social Activist, Assam) and Motiur Rahman (Social Activist, Assam) also addressed the media.

They said BJP MLA Rabin Asikis and other senior party leaders including VHP leader Pravin Togadia are making provocative statements and fueling communal tension in the state.

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