The exclusion of Gorkhas and other tribes raise doubts about the 'Bangladeshi' bogeyman
Guwahati, September 17: The entire debate around outsiders and foreigners has been based on the long held belief that Bangladeshi infiltrators are threatening the demography and culture of Assam. But now, as per a community wise break-up of the over 19 lakh people excluded from the final National Register of Citizens (NRC), nearly a third of the people left out of the list are actually non-Bengali people, many of whom belong to indigenous tribes and ethnic groups. Shockingly thousands of Karbis, Rabhas, Sonowal Kacharis and even Ahoms have been excluded from the final NRC!
As per sources in the Intelligence Branch of the Assam government, the break-up is as follows:
Bengali Hindu 6.90 Lakh
East Bengal origin Muslim 4.86 Lakh
Assamese Hindu 60,000
Koch Rajbonshi 58,000
Goria Moria Deshi 35,000
Sonowal Kachari 1,000
Bishnupriya Manipuri 200
A total of 19,06,657 people were excluded from the final NRC list. This means 6,70,000 or one-third of the people excluded are neither Bengali Hindu or Muslim, nor Assamese Hindu. But look at these numbers closely, they total to 14,77,520. Which means approximately 4,30,000 people are still unaccounted for in this break-up. According to expert sources who have access to information from the NRC office, these unaccounted people are none other than people from North, South and Western India, a bulk of them Hindi speaking Hindus from North India.
This goes against the popular narrative, developed and spread by the Assam movement that lakhs of ‘foreigners’ have secretly entered and settled in Assam. The original figure quoted by them was '40 lakh Bangladeshis'. This figure kept on increasing to 60 lakhs, 80 lakhs and even 1 crore with the passage of time. Right-wing organisations including as many as 100 big and small groups, allegedly backed by the Sangh Parivar that have been active in the region for decades, subsequently added more communal fuel to this ethnic conflict by popularising the parallel narrative that all Muslims living in Assam are Bangladeshi migrants and infiltrators.
The RSS and BJP which were active participants in the Assam Movement against foreigners, 1979-1985, managed to give a communal twist to Assam Movement, leading to over 500 Bengali Hindus and over 5000 Muslims being killed by the supporters of the Movement. Thus the ultra-communal and ultra-chauvinist combined forces have been attacking the Muslim minority on the one hand and Bengali speaking Hindus on the other. The continuous attacks, physical and mental, have been humiliating for these groups of people. The updated NRC, which is waiting for the final nod from Supreme Court has been eye opener for all, especially related to the myth of Bangladeshi infiltration in Assam.
Meanwhile, a fresh campaign of misinformation has been kickstarted by the communal-chauvinist combine in the state. While a former Chief Minister of Assam recently declared that there are 30 lakhs of illegal Bangladeshi in Assam, he wonders how the number has come down to only 19 lakh. They are also quoting former Union Home Minister Indrajit Gupta and former Minister for State, Home Affairs, Union of India who had earlier declared that there are 60 lakhs and 40 lakhs of illegal Bangladeshi residing in Assam. The publication of the final NRC list has dumped cold water over their divisive agenda.
All people included in the NRC have had to jump through various bureaucratic hoops and a variety of checks and balances. While the ‘Original Inhabitants’ got some exemptions in terms of submitting certain documentary evidence, Bengali Hindus or Muslims were not offered these relaxations. Their names have been included only because of documentary evidence, not at any one's behest.
According to Nandu Ghosh, CJP Volunteer Motivator for Lower Assam, "The target group (for the) NRC was either Bengali speaking Hindus or Muslims. The continuous support and effort of various social and rights organizations, have alleviated the suffering of the maximum possible number of people. Because of this, excluded persons among Bengali speaking Hindus and Muslims are now under 12 lakhs. Though this is still a huge number for us, the communal-chauvinist combination of Assam Movement are not satisfied with these figures.” Ghosh adds, “It is also important to note that, out of 12 lakhs Bengali speaking people, at least one third are children or such persons of which either their parents’ names or names from their family or family tree have been already included in final NRC.” Ghosh also points out another important aspect of exclusion. “If the Citizenship card, Migration Certificate or Refugee inmate Certificates would have been accepted-- in accordance with the Modalities, SOP of the NRC and as per Supreme Court directives-- at least two-thirds of the Bengali Hindu Population excluded from final NRC would have not been affected," says Ghosh.
Former Principal of Pandu College and noted Literary Critic Amal Kanti Raha concurs saying, "The number of people dropped from the final list is higher than the expected. It is due to the reason that other than the target group, huge numbers of other groups of people have been excluded from final NRC.” However, he fears that all of them barring the Bengalis will get some exemptions. He says, “Only the Bengali Hindus and the Muslims will have to face the Foreigners Tribunal for getting justice. We are thankful that the gruelling hard work of the team of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) has minimized the number of excluded persons from among the Bengali Hindus and Muslims."