NRC panic

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By excluding about 19 lakh people from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam alone, the NDA-government and its BJP leaders are spreading panic in the country by announcing that it will be implemented across India. By doing so, the BJP leaders, who have developed a vested interest in creating panic among the minorities, are talking about NRC implementation across the country soon. Such statements appear more as a diversionary tactics for the common masses, who are reeling under the pressure of high food inflation, unemployment and pathetic slowdown in the economy. In fact, people are more interested in earning their livelihood compared to such issues which can only cause panic among some sections of the society particularly the people, who had to perforce migrate to India either from erstwhile East of West Pakistan for their safety after the spectre of partition of the country 72 years ago. In the meantime, it has become extremely difficult for the people in West Bengal to believe that such NRC will not be implemented in the state. It is a lot of worried population, which migrated to WB, many of them having crossed over from East Pakistan and Bangladesh during partition in 1947 and after the 1971 war and have nowhere to go if they are excluded from the NRC in near future. As such they have to specific assurance from chief minister Mamata Banerjee on this issue. The panic sparked off by the spectre of NRC should serve a warning to politicians who have been talking about its implementation across the country soon. Across WB, queues are reportedly becoming longer outside government offices with people seeking documents necessary for inclusion in the NRC; there have even been reports of suicide, reportedly due to panic, anxiety and depression for want of papers. With the Assam experience, people in West Bengal are taking no chances. It is unfortunate they are become uncertain about their future if such an exercise is undertaken by the centre and these migrants, who have spent two or more generations in the state, have nowhere to go. The uncertainty is not surprising since senior functionaries of the BJP have been insisting that the NRC is a must with Sangh Parivaar leader assuring that Hindus will not have to leave the country. Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently said: “The people of the country took a decision in 2019. We are here to bring the NRC, and those who are excluded will be sent out of the country after due legal process.” Ahead of the general elections early this year, Shah infamously referred to illegal migrants as termites and said a BJP government would pick up infiltrators and throw them into the sea. The BJP functionaries have also introduced a communal angle in the citizenship debate by insisting that Hindus excluded from the NRC would be protected. Earlier this week, BJP general secretary in charge of the party in West Bengal, Kailash Vijayvargiya said: “As national general secretary of BJP, I want to assure all of you that NRC will be implemented but not a single Hindu will have to leave the country. Each and every Hindu will be given citizenship.” RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat too has reportedly said that the RSS will stand by Hindus not listed in the final NRC in Assam and that Hindus anywhere in India need not worry. The Delhi BJP has turned shrill in its demand for NRC, following in the footsteps of the chief ministers of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The NRC was proposed for Assam in 1951 in the backdrop of the extraordinary political history of the region before partition. It is interesting to note that the idea of citizenship envisaged by the Indian Constitution does not discriminate on the basis of religion. The founding fathers of the Indian Republic also did not envisage that this country should close its borders to people fleeing political and economic turmoil or persecution. The BJP leaders are not serving any national interest by erasing this history and whipping up anxieties over questions that can cause deep divisions in the society.