Assam’s Citizenship Turmoil: A collection of readings

Assam has been in turmoil for some time. In recent months the intensity of it has deepened. Lives are being lost through killings and suicides. There has been a two-pronged attack on the people of the state. The first is through the NRC (National Register of Citizens). In a judgement in 2014 the Supreme Court ordered preparation of the NRC in Assam. Since then the residents of the state have been made to produce pre-1971 documents to prove that they are legitimate citizens. The final draft list of the NRC, released on 30th July 2018, excluded 40 lakhs people. The excluded face an uncertain future, possible statelessness. The politics of cultural, ethnic chauvinism is gaining ground in the atmosphere of proving one’s legitimacy. Questions of life, livelihood, exploitation of labour, of natural resources are being thrown aside.

The second assault on the people is the CAB or the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The Bill was introduced by the Central Government led by the BJP. The bill treats Muslims immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afganistan differently from non-Muslim immigrants. The latter are provided asylum while the former are treated as infiltrators. It thus violates the principle of equality of faith enshrined in the Constitution. A popular reaction in Assam against CAB has taken an anti-Bengali edge. Paranoid rhetoric is being spread that Hindu Bangladeshis would swamp the state if the CAB is passed. The Hindutvavadi forces have been busy shaping India in the image of Hindu Rashtra. The CAB is an instrument in this project. These dangerous games are giving rise of conflict and violence.

The killing of 5 Bengali working class men in Tinsukia by unknown gunmen, the spate of suicides by helpless people as they face a future of statelessness, detention of more than 1000 poor people in 6 detention camps which violate every norm of humanity: these are some of the pointers of the incendiary situation developing in the state. As if, Hindutva politics of the Sangh Parivar and nativist politics of chauvinistic groups have conspired to create this situation. A collection of commentary pieces is presented here on this fast developing humanitarian tragedy. Some of these article have appeared on Sanhati-India. Some appeared elsewhere and are listed here. We intend to prepare a collection of readings on the NRC, Citizenship Amendment Bill, D-voters, the Foreigners’ Tribunal, etc. It is hoped that the reader would gain a comprehensive idea of the project which is going on to forge a “correct” citizenry, in a land fraught with majoritarian violence and ethnic conflicts.


%d bloggers like this: