The Myth of Illegal Muslim Immigrants in Assam Finally Busted

Nagaon: Residents whose names were left out in the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) get their documents checked during an appeal hearing against the non-inclusion of names at an NRC office in Assam’s Nagaon, on June 3, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

M Burhanuddin Qasmi | Caravan Daily

  • Total applicants of the Assam NRC were 3,30,27,661
  • Total applicants included in the final NRC list are 3,11,00,004.
  • Total candidates left out from the final NRC list are 19,06,657.
  • A majority of those 19 lakhs excluded from the NRC are not Muslims.

The myth of 50-70 lakh to one crore of Bengali Muslims illegally infiltrated in Assam post 1971 and settled here permanently is finally busted today with official means and statistics. Now that the final list of National Register of Citizenship (NRC) is out the dirty political game of Hindus Vs Muslims must end.

Approximately 16 hundred crore rupees were spent and 55 thousand people worked day and night for almost five years to prepare the list. A large number of workers from public sectors were deputed on NRC duty due to which Assam education and other development sectors suffered.

And the result is here for all to see.

What we have got today is actually a nightmare. This list cannot be termed as the “final”. It is mere one more Pandora’s Box for Assam, opened on 31st August 2019. Consequently, lakhs of people will be forced to run from pillar to post. Nothing is going to be achieved from this futile exercise except more pain and more division in the society.

A lie has been propagated by the vested interests overtime for the past decades in Assam as well as across India that all illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh are Bengali Muslims. This was done meticulously to take political mileage. Now, this has been, at least, proven squarely wrong today with official endorsement on the statistical data released in the form of final NRC list.

There are a total of 19 lakh people excluded from this list of citizenship. Majority of them are certainly not Muslims, let alone 50-70 lakh illegal Muslim immigrants as was being projected by some political entities. This has vindicated out stand .

We have been saying for the past several years at all public forums that Muslim never entered India in large numbers post partition. There could be some exceptions, which is the case with almost all developing countries of the world. However, politics has its own logic that suits it better, no matter what price ordinary citizens have to pay for it.

Post NRC final list, many of us still believe that the 19 lakh were excluded from the list so that majority of the population left behind in the state is of genuine Indians. The fact of the matter is that the exclusion of these 19 lakh people is not without doubt. Their names are not included in the list for several reasons, prominent among them are clerical apathy and unprofessional support staff of NRC Authority.

We simply cannot accept a retired army officer, Sanaullah, who took part in the Kargil War, is not an Indian citizen. Similarly, it is unbelievable that an on-duty BSF officer, Mujibur Rahman, who is protecting our borders away from his home in Punjab, could be declared a foreigner and was not informed about it for almost one year.

Are our armed forces so incompetent that they don’t even crosscheck if a person is Indian citizen or not before recruiting him for protection of our frontiers? How could, Ananta Kumar and Ataur Rahman, a sitting member of legislation assembly (MLA) of Assam and a former two-term MLA respectively, who have a handy record of as far back as 1926 to prove their nationality, not make it to the final NRC list?

My own niece (sister’s daughter) is not included in the final list while her entire family, her parents, all her children, all her siblings, her husband and all her in-laws are on the list. A minor writing error, at the time of filling the NRC form by the family, that in place of her grandfather’s name, by mistake, her father in-law’s name was entered, which was later detected and rectified three times during different hearings.

But today, when the list has come out, the word “Rejected” was written against her name. It could simply be a common sense error with a particular NRC officer or a deliberate attempt by some to spoil the whole exercise.

There is something seriously wrong with the system which needs urgent rectification and all genuine Indians must be included in the list without putting extra legal or logistic burden on their poor backs. However, no foreigner, who entered Assam after 1971 from out of India, must be included, no matter what.

We would better move forward from here, sooner than later, and contemplate on development of the state in a spirit of tolerance leaving behind the acrimony of the past. Let’s build our land with dedication and hard work and make more friends than enemy within.

(The author is director of Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Centre (MMERC), Mumbai and editor of Eastern Crescent, English monthly.)


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