Social activist Harsh Mander has resigned as the special monitor NHRC for minorities and communal violence. Mander had authored a report on the critical question of people declared as foreigners in the detention centres of Assam. But, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) not “reaching out to him even once” has “forced” him to put down his papers.
Of course, Mander has stated that the said issue is one of the reasons for him deciding to step down. The former IAS officer was deputed by NHRC in January this year along with two other officials to visit the detention centres in Assam. The two officials submitted a separate report to the commission and Mander submitted an independent report. Stated Mander in his resignation letter, “Though I had sent several reminders to NHRC seeking details of action taken on my report, but, I received no reply. I, therefore, feel compelled to answer my call of conscience and resign from the post of the special monitor NHRC for minorities and communal violence.”
Mander’s resignation comes barely a week before the scheduled release of the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam on June 30 next but, the same may be delayed by few days as the flood situation in Barak Valley is still grim. NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela has filed an application in the Supreme Court on Monday seeking more time for publication of NRC in the State taking into consideration the fact that few districts are still affected by flood.
Mander also refers to the NRC concerns in his resignation letter – “In the light of the impending conclusion of the NRC process in Assam, this is a matter of extreme urgency from a human rights perspective. There is the possibility of tens of thousands, even lakhs of Assam residents being declared foreigners. Their fate is a human rights concern of the highest importance at this time.”
The NRC exercise aims to “identify” all genuine citizens living in Assam and “weed out” the infiltrators who have reportedly migrated from Bangladesh. It is likely that people whose names will be missing from the updated NRC list may find their way into the detention centres and this is where social activist Mander’s concern lies.