Exclusion of 19 Lakh People Shows the Irrationality of #NRC Exercise: Joint Forum Against NRC

The Final NRC published today has excluded a whopping 19.06 lakh persons in Assam. The NRC process had shifted the burden of proof of citizenship on to the entire population of Assam, with people undergoing deep travails over the past four years to get their names included. In a poor country like ours and in a state which witnesses frequent floods, it is not unnatural that lakhs of people were unable to produce documents to prove that they or their ancestors were inhabitants of Assam before 24th March 1971. To rob people of their citizenship and rendering them stateless on the basis of this flawed process would be a gross violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.

The Union Government and the Parliament should have intervened long back to overturn the Supreme Court judgement which had initiated this irrational and anti-people exercise in 2015. However, the Modi Government showed more interest in using the NRC process to step up their divisive and communal propaganda around “Bangladeshi infiltrators”. Today, when over 19 lakh persons have been excluded from the NRC, a majority of whom are Hindu Bengalis, besides a large number of Bengali Muslims, Gorkhas, Dalits, Adivasis and even Assamese-speaking persons, senior Ministers of the BJP Government in Assam have started speaking out against the NRC. Such monumental hypocrisy has no precedence.

The Central and Assam State Government are setting up 400 Foreigners Tribunals (FT) in Assam in which they are asking the 19 lakh plus NRC-excluded people to apply within the next 120 days, in order to prove their citizenship. If they are declared foreigners by the FTs, they would be imprisoned in the detention centres. Jailing such large numbers of innocent people will amount to human rights violation on a massive scale, funded by taxpayers money. Can this monstrosity be permitted in a constitutional democracy?

The Joint Forum against NRC calls upon the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, the Union and Assam State Governments, the Indian Parliament and the Assam State Assembly to intervene immediately to stop this cruel, anti-democratic exercise of mass persecution and initiate the process of granting Indian citizenship to all the 19 lakh plus NRC-excluded persons, irrespective of religion, language, caste and creed.

The Joint Forum against NRC also demands that the Modi Government’s proposal to extend the NRC process across the country be scrapped immediately.

The Joint Forum against NRC demands that the West Bengal Assembly adopts a Resolution against the initiation of any such NRC process in West Bengal, which has been home to millions of refugees since the tragic Partition. The Joint Forum against NRC also denounces the latest Citizenship Amendment Bill which seeks to exclude Muslim refugees from being eligible for Indian citizenship, since it militates against the secular principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

The Joint Forum against NRC calls for a Protest Demonstration in front of Assam Bhavan in Kolkata to press for these demands on Monday, September 2, 2019, at 2.30 pm.

Sd/-

Convenors,
Joint Forum against NRC
Kolkata, 31.08.2019

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