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  • KIPS Bureau
  • Sep, 2018
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India has published a list which effectively strips about four million people in the North-Eastern state of Assam of their citizenship.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a list of people who can prove they came to the state by 24 March 1971, a day before neighboring Bangladesh declared independence.

India says the process is needed to identify illegal Bangladeshi migrants. But it has sparked fears in Assam's ethnic minorities.

Historical Background

Millions of people fled to neighboring India after Bangladesh declared independence in 1971. In the process, many of the refugees settled in Assam.

Under the Assam Accord, an agreement signed by then PM Rajiv Gandhi in 1985, all those who cannot prove that they came to the North-Eastern state before 24 March 1971 will be deleted from electoral rolls and expelled as they are not considered legitimate citizens.

More than 32 million people submitted documents to the NRC to prove they were citizens, but four million of them have been excluded from the published list.

Indian Stance

The mass influx of Bangladeshi Muslims has been a destabilizing force in Assam and has resulted in a number of political and security challenges in the state.

Most of the Bangladeshi immigrants have got their names enlisted in the voting list illegally, thereby claiming themselves as citizens of the state.

Among the illegal migrants there are also militants, who carry out the terrorist activities.

Present Situation

A large part of Assam’s 33 million population comprises immigrants, while most of them are from Bangladesh. The 1985 Assam Accord, signed 33 years ago, is finally being implemented now and creating a whole new set of problems.

NRC is being used as a pretext for a two-pronged attack by Hindu nationalists and Assamese hardliners on the state's Bengali community, a large portion of which is Muslim.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is implementing its policy of ‘divide and rule’ by segregating the illegal migrants as refugees and infiltrators on religious basis.

India’s National Interest-Way Forward

To assert its impact in the region and keep good terms with Bangladesh in particular, India needs to relook at the NRC process.

India needs to minimize the fears of minorities specially Muslims to avoid any future conflict with Muslim world. 

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