Divisive exercise - GulfToday

Divisive exercise

Divisive exercise

The National Register of Citizens exercise in Assam cost the exchequer Rs 1,600 crore.

The National Register of Citizens exercise in Assam cost the exchequer Rs 1,600 crore and in its wake put people under immense trauma and hardship while leaving over 19 lakh people stateless. Sad to say, the four-year long process turned out to be a grave failure. What we know now is that it is a colossal waste of money and a divisive and tortuous exercise (“All-India NRC list will cover every citizen, says Amit Shah,” Nov.21, Gulf Today).

In light of this it is appalling that the Union Home Minister Amit Shah now wants to undertake a similar exercise across the country. Ironically, once again in Assam, also. The minister is saying that “No religion has been targeted or isolated during the NRC exercise,” and that the “Citizenship Amendment Bill is needed so that refugees who are being discriminated on basis of religion in Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan, get Indian citizenship.”

If that be true, the initiative needs to be lauded. But what the Assam exercise threw was chaos and fear; stoked divisions based on religion, language and ethnicity and put millions on the edge. Many are still struggling to get their names in the register visiting tribunals and the likes. Exactly when Assam was on the brink of leaving its past behind and marching towards a better future, the NRC exercise ground it to a chaotic halt. It that be the case what then can we expect if it becomes Pan-India exercise? And what about the whole talk of ‘infiltrators’? Maybe I shouldn’t doubt the government’s ‘honourable’ intentions.

Fahid Rahman
By email