Would there be such a hullaballoo on the foreign national issue in Assam had there been no bill to amend the citizenship act by the Central Government? The Left and the liberal minded people stood for the rights of the linguistic and religious minorities during the Assam movement. Are we differentiating between these two now? How should we view the question of D-voters? What will happen to the people whose names will not appear in the final NRC? What will be our position on this? Do we know how many detention camps are there in Assam and the conditions of the camps? What about the human rights of the people detained in these camps? Have we ever thought it?
A democratic minded citizen cannot support the citizenship amendment act. We also need a correct NRC for the solution of the foreign national problem. Even after agreeing on both the things, aren’t the above questions relevant? I think these are most relevant questions and we need to address them appropriately.
Did we ever think that the linguistic minorities will jeopardize our identity before the bill to amend the citizenship act was introduced? Why didn’t we raise this issue earlier? If BJP government introduced this bill to divide people on religious and linguistic lines, are we exacerbating it by our reactions to the bill? Isn’t then it serving the very purpose of the BJP? Are we plying to their ticks then? Leaving aside all other issues aren’t we concentrating singularly on this emotive and identity issue now?
Why aren’t we discussing joblessness, agricultural crisis, lack of industrialization and issues of healthcare and education now? Are these issues obsolete now? Or is it that we don’t know how to present them meaningfully? How easily BJP could turn everything to a divisive agenda! Is it that they have become proactive and we are just reacting to them? Why are we behaving like this? Have we made a mistake somewhere? Did we miss the secular thread somewhere?
I don’t know, but asking! Have we differentiated between the linguistic and religious minorities? Where should we pay our emphasis–Hindus, Muslims or on a cutoff date! If the narrative rotates around a cutoff date it will turn towards a secular approach. How rational is it to think that once the citizenship bill is amended all the Hindus will migrate from Bangladesh to Assam and jeopardize the identity of the Assamese people?
Do we know how many foreigners are here in Assam? Is there a consensus on this? Aren’t the figures so far offered by various sources all conjecture and inferences? Why is there an exponential growth among the religious minority in Assam? Is it because of more people coming from across the border or lack of education and family planning among them? How much truth is there in the continuous influx of foreigners from Bangladesh to Assam when Assam has been witnessing such a volatile situation on alien issue for last few decades? Why will they come here what for? Will they come here to be harassed and pilloried?
For quite sometime there has been this tension going on in Assam over the issue of foreign nationals. Hasn’t a section of the religious and linguistic minority faced the violation of their human rights in this situation! During the Assam agitation all cases of harassment of minority people were justified by the leaders of the agitation saying that such small incidents could always take place in the face of a momentous upsurge for a great cause. Shall we say the same thing about any human right violation of the minority people now? Let us talk about the detention camps in Assam. Do we know how many detention camps are there in Assam and how many people are languishing there and for how long? Are they entitled to any rights?
Why am I raising these questions? There are four factors which led me to raise them. First, there must be a consensus as to how many foreigners are there in Assam. Once this figure is decided we shall know the harm they can cause to our identity and body polity. This will help us plan a better solution to the problem. As this is not yet decided, the political parties are fishing in the troubled waters. This is the second thing which we must bring to a stop.
This is vital in the sense that all over the world the capitalist forces have changed their colour. For them it is easier to exploit in an atmosphere where people are divided on emotive and identity lines. The third thing is about a letter sent to the External Affairs Minister on June 11 by the United Nations Human Rights Special Procedures, Special Rapporteurs, Independent Expert & Working Group alleging wide spread human rights violation of people belonging to Bengali speaking Muslim minority community in Assam without any substantial facts and figures.
We need to attend to the above questions in order to foil such allegations. The forth thing is very recent. It is a din created by an international organization called Avaaz, raising the same allegation. We definitely need to safeguard our identity and we must seek early solution to foreign national issue. But, we must do it democratically, without succumbing to any divisive agenda and without infringing on rights on any community small or big.