Assam’s census data does point to massive influx before 1971 but ‘not much influx’ after that, says Suhas Chakma, director of the Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG).
Releasing the RRAG report, ‘Foreigners in Assam a Blast from the Past’, Chakma said that the reports of the Indian census points to a mammoth influx of immigrants from 1901 to 1971 but no noticeable influx of foreigners into Assam in the post 1971 period.
Also read: Assam NRC appeals ruin applicants: Report
The cut-off date for recognition of migrants as citizens of India is March 24, 1971.
The RRAG report stated, ‘As per the Decadal Variation in Population since 1901 to 2011 of the Census of India, from 1901 to 1971, Assam’s average decadal population growth rate was 23.95 per cent against all India’s average decadal population growth rate of 12.90 per cent’.
“For a period of 70 years that is, 1901 to 1971, the average decadal growth rate of population in Assam (23.95 per cent) was almost double of all India (12.90 per cent) and it changed the demographic character of Assam,” the report added.
“But, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) had accepted the immigrants of this period as citizens of India under the Assam Accord,” the report further stated.
The report also stated, “The Census of India’s Decadal Variation in Population Since 1901 to 2011 also states that Assam has consistently registered lower decadal population growth than All India during 1971 to 2011 and Assam recorded average decadal population growth rate of 20.90% against All India’s average national decadal population growth rate of 21.94% during the same period”.
“In fact, from 1971 to 2011, Assam had the lowest average decadal population growth rate in the North Eastern region with Nagaland having the highest average decadal population growth rate of 42.52 per cent, followed by Mizoram with 35.14 per cent, Arunachal Pradesh with 31.25 per cent, Meghalaya with 30.88 per cent, Manipur with 27.78 per cent, Tripura with 24.27 per cent and Assam with 20.90 per cent,” the report stated.
“Indeed, Assam is the only state in the north-eastern region which had lower average decadal population growth rate than all India while all other north-eastern states had higher average decadal population growth rate than all India,” the report stated.
“If abnormal population growth rate as reflected in census reports is the determinant for identifying influx of foreigners, Assam had not witnessed any noticeable influx of foreigners in the post 1971 period,” the reported also stated.
“At least, major influx of foreigners into Assam in the post 1971 period is not supported by statistics of the Census of India,” said Suhas Chakma, director of the RRAG.
Commenting on the exclusion of 41,10,169 persons from the draft NRC, the report stated, “As per the Decadal Variation in Population Since 1901 to 2011 of the Census of India and estimated population of Assam and India for 2018, the total absolute number of increase of population in Assam during 1971 to 2018 was 2,03,93,248 persons.”
“If 41,73,169 persons excluded from the draft NRC are all foreigners, Assam’s population of the citizens in 2018 would have increased by 1,62,20,079 persons only from 1971 to 2018,” the report stated.
“In that case, the average decadal population grown rate of Assam would further fall to 17.1 per cent against average All India’s decadal population growth rate of 22.4 per cent during the same period,” the report also added.
“There is no plausible basis to consider that average decadal population growth rate in Assam would be 5.3 per cent less than that of all India’s average decadal population growth rate from 1971 to 2018,” the report stated.
“Assam’s lower average decadal population growth rate than All India and the north-eastern states during the period unequivocally suggests that majority of those excluded from the NRC are actually Indian citizens but suffering the brunt of the anti-foreigner sentiments in the State as a consequence of mammoth influx of migrants from 1901 to 1971 and due to the absence of documents, which must be dated before 24th March 1971,” Chakma said.
“The process of identification of foreigners is part of administration of criminal justice and illegal entry of foreigners is a penal offence carrying maximum punishment upto five years under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946,” he also sad.
“The Blackstone’s ratio in criminal law provides that it is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer,” he added.
“But, as per the data of the Census of India, the NRC of Assam appears to be punishing an overwhelming majority of Indian citizens while identifying negligible number of actual foreigners,” Chakma said.