Opinion: Mamata Banerjee takes a U-turn on National Register of Citizens

Written By: Puniti Pandey WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Aug 04, 2018, 09:58 AM(IST)

File photo of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. Photograph:( WION Web Team )

The final draft of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam which was released on Monday has listed 2.89 crores as Indian citizens, out of the 3.29 crore applicants.

The list excluded over 40 lakh people from the citizenship of the country.

The NRC is the outcome of the years of protest led by indigenous people of Assam against the foreign infiltrators from Bangladesh. The Assam Movement which started in 1979 and continued till 1985 was a popular movement against the illegal immigrants from the neighbouring country.

The agitation forced the Indian government to identify and remove the foreigners who had illegally entered the state.

Following the agitation, the leaders of the state parties AASU, AAGSP and the Government of India also signed the Assam accord.

The opposition parties who firmly stood against the NRC are going against the rights of the Indigenous Assamese people, who have been protesting against the foreign infiltrators. The natives of the state have time and again complained of their loss of land and resources. 

Assam has witnessed decades of illegal migration from the neighbouring country Bangladesh. Bangladesh on the other hand as never officially acknowledged that any of its citizens illegally migrated to Assam. 

Assam is currently updating the list to identify the foreigners. The first NRC was published in Assam in the year 1951 on the basis of that year's census. 

After the release of the final NRC draft, the authorities have, however, clearly mentioned that the people whose name was excluded from the list will have an option to prove their citizenship claims from August 30 to September 28 at various NRC Seva Kendras.

The Chief Minister of the state Sarbanand Sonowal and the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh have also assured that no one will be deported to Bangladesh or will be sent to a detention camp only on the basis of the draft NRC.

The final list of citizens will exclude the people from the country's citizenship who will then come under the "stateless" tag and will be different from refugees. 

The leaders backing the rights of the foreigners to stay in the country do not realise that the vote bank politics may garner them votes from a particular community, however, it may lead to a feeling of discontent and discrimination among the natives who have been fighting for their rights since a long time.

A video floating on social media shows how Mamata Banerjee in 2005 favoured the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Amid massive uproar in the parliament, Mamata Banerjee, who was in opposition then threw a stack of sheets on the then deputy speaker of the Lok Sabha, Charanjit Singh. 

She also said that the illegal immigrants in Bangladesh had spelt disaster for West Bengal and added that the Bangladeshi citizens who had got their names on the voter list in Bengal should be expelled. 

Taking a complete flip-flop in the matter in 2018, Banerjee this time rejected the final draft of the NRC list which is supervised by the Supreme Court.

Addressing the media after the release of the list she said, Bengalis and Biharis living in Assam were being targeted and that they are "Indians and not Rohingya".

Mamata who had once demanded the exclusion of illegal immigrants from Bengal responded to BJP's demand of introducing a similar list for West Bengal by saying that "Let them touch anyone and they will see the consequences".

The Congress, on the other hand, is forgetting that it was under the Rajiv Gandhi rule that the Assam Accord was passed which aimed at eliminating the illegal immigrants from the country.

The illegal infiltration in Assam has led to a dis-balance in the population growth of the state.

Mamata Banerjee's contradictory stand on National Register of Citizens clearly reflects her hypocrisy in the matter.


(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)

Puniti Pandey

A new entrant in the journalism field, Puniti Pandey works with the WION Digital Team. Social and Political injustice along with degrading natural resources concerns her a lot.
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