The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that the process of filing objections by those whose names are not listed in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft list in Assam should be fair.
The NRC draft features names, addresses and photographs of all Indian citizens, who have been residing in the northeastern state before March 25, 1971. The veracity of this very statement is subjective and difficult to establish. Lets also take a peak at the affected parties being wronged in case of natural or deliberate errors that often creep in such compilations.
“A vast majority of those affected also happen to be from the lower strata of society. Having been residents for the past varying periods of 47 years and below, what documents and papers can the government and the Supreme Court expect these people to furnish, represent and fight their cases with” asked a prominent personality from North Lakhimpur Area of Assam.
Many of these unlisted also travel across India in search of livelihoods and end up doing most of the menial jobs like maids and casual labourers. How can a prudent governance, be it the courts or the committees that came up with the list expect these people to spend and travel back to their abodes in Assam and defend and fight their cases of non-inclusion.
Then there is a large chunk of people whom we often come across in Assams, who migrated to Assam from Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and other neighbouring states in search of livelihood. Inter-state movement of Indians doesn’t disqualify an Indian citizen to be de-rostered or disenfranchised.
So for a few anomalies and human errors, there is a all likelihood to snatch and strip the citizenship of many of our own citizens. If such an injustice happens, even to a single family, due to their poverty, illiteracy and inability to represent as per SOP’s that Centre comes up with, it will only add to the justification of the old adage “Poverty is a Curse”. It will infact amount to the Have’s exploiting the Have Not’s in the 21st century.
To highlight, here is an ironical case where even the more well off’s, no less than a Former President’s family have not made it to the NRC list
Former Indian President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed's brother’s family could not find their names in the NRC draft list released on Monday. Ziauddin Ali Ahmed says he is very worried and will look into the matter. #40LakhOutOfNRC pic.twitter.com/A0SdT7PI66
— CNNNews18 (@CNNnews18) July 31, 2018
Nonetheless, in such a scenario of our own citizens getting wronged, Prime Minister Modi’s oft repeated boasts and claims of doing much for the poor in the country stands contradicted. Many concerns of the common man that the poor remains on the receiving end due to Modi’s policies and actions, have already surfaced in different parts of the country and social quarters.
The court, however continues with its rigmarole. It added that a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) should be applied. The division bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, observed that as per rules the person has to be sent notice and also should get a hearing in connection to the matter. The feasibility and extent of fairness of this will have to be seen in the light of what is said in our earlier paragraphs.
Furthering Supreme Courts remarks on judging the fairness, veteran congress leader Manish Tiwari also tweeted about the volatile situation having been created by the BJP due to its novice actions that might have far reaching consequences:
On what empirical evidence, has Amit Shah declared 40 lakh people as Bangladeshi infiltrators? Does PM Modi promise to send these people to Bangladesh? An absurd situation has been created. It will subvert Assam & disrupt entire North East: Manish Tewari, Congress, on #NRCAssam pic.twitter.com/u4dev6LXPe
— ANI (@ANI) July 31, 2018
The top court in the meantime directed the NRC co-ordinator, Prateek Hajela, and the central government to submit before the court the process or modalities they plan to follow to file objections. Some solace could be drawn when Justice Gogoi said, “We will see if it is fair or not. Then we will decide. If something needs to be done, we will do.”
Also, many consider as positive, the honorable courts remarks addressing the Attorney General, “You do what you want to do, then we will say. Our silence is neither agreement nor rejection nor assurance.”
Attorney General K K Venugopal submitted to the court that the concerned ministry is preparing the SOP to deal with the tedious claims and objections, highlighted above, to ensure a fair process. He assured the court that the SOP would be submitted to the court in mid August.
The apex court was hearing many petitions, including the Assam Samhilta and the Social Justice Forum, seeking quashing of the NRC procedure since it was in violation of citizenship rules 2003. Though it might seem to be a mundane matter for the Supreme Court, but as many feel and some prominent figures bring out, the NRC could open a can of worms, quite literally for the Indian government to tackle. More so when matters of immigrants often find echo internationally and have global repercussions.
In the words of MK Venu, one of the founding directors of “The Wire”.
Does BJP realize what a political time bomb the National Register for Citizens(NRC) can be. Now a BJP leader is proposing NRC for West Bengal. A Rajasthan minister is calling for NRC in Rajasthan. Virus spreading.
— M K Venu (@mkvenu1) July 31, 2018
With this development of NRC delisting 40 lacs in one go, the political mudslinging has already started. On the one hand the BJP cadres are rejoicing on the exclusion of so many (voters), who were seen as opposition votebank as they remained perpetually opposed to BJP ideology denying BJP a foothold for the past 60 years. The Congress and many in the opposition, on the other hand, have charged the government of deliberately targeting Muslims in the garb of Bengalis who came over as legal / illegal immigrants some upto 47 years back.
With General Elections round the corner, the debates and charges are bound to fly thick and thin. However, the ultimate victims and sufferers to this political slugfest, will be real human beings like you, me and us.