Published On: Sat, Jul 20th, 2019

Ganesh Malviya of BJP on National Register of Citizens (NRC) of Assam

Summary of the NRC

Today we are with Ganesh Malviya who hails from Bhopal, a renowned face of BJP to discuss about one of the most talked issues in India.  The population of India keeps a record of all of its citizens with the National Register of Citizens, which was established in 1951. This excludes Assam, which is an independent region. Due to an influx of immigrants that were entering Assam, a movement was started by the All Assam Student’s Union in 1979.  The aim of this movement was to deport all of the illegal immigrants that had come into Assam, which outnumbered the natives of the area. The movement lasted 6 years and was finally settled in August of 1985 with the signing of the Assam Accord.  It was in December of 2013 that Assam began a civil verification process due to an influx in the Bangladesh population. Invitations to apply for Assam State citizenship were extended in May of 2015, and the Assam government released its first draft of the National Citizen Register on December 31st, 2017.  During this time, 3.29 million applications were received from applicants requesting recognition as an Indian citizen. To date, 1.9 million of these applications have been approved, with the remaining 1.39 applications still under review. 

To shed more light on the topic, Ganesh Malviya Madhya Pradesh answers some key questions regarding the subject. Among his accomplishments, worth mentioning are his involvement in the election campaign for big leaders of BJP like Kailash Vijayvargiya, Kushabhau Thakre, Sunderlal Patwa, Shyam Jaju, G Kishan Reddy, Nityaand Rai , V Murlidharan, and Narendra Singh Tomar. He also worked with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his early days. Ganesh Malviya is a known name in Bhopal, and in BJP.  Recently he decoded the entire 2019 Indian general election, which most political pundits failed to decipher. Also, he was the earliest proponents of defending Election commission over using Electronic Voting Machines.

 Ganesh Malviya (img 1)What is the National Registrar of Citizens and Why Was it Created?

The National Registrar of Citizens was enacted in 1955, providing the Central Government the means to keep records of its Indian citizens.  The Central Government has the responsibility of gathering information on every individual and family in the country.

In 2004, Section 14A of the Citizenship Act of 1955 was amended, making it mandatory for each and every citizen to register themselves in the National Register of Citizens, also referred to as NRC.  One of the first steps towards creating the records for the NRC is through the National Population Register or NPR.

The NPR is a register of the entire population of the country, excluding Assam and Meghalaya.  The NPR was updated from 2015 to 2016, using figures from the 2011 census of the National Register of Citizens as a starting point.

The National Register of Citizens for Assam was created after it was ordered by the Supreme Court.  The aim of this register was to help identify any illegal immigrants so that they could be deported.  The register lists the names of all of those who are considered to be citizens of India with a cut-off date of 1971.  What this means is that anyone who was living in Assam before this date, or who had parents or ancestors living there before this date, were to be considered Indian citizens.  In order to be recognized as a Citizen of India, people need to submit documents that prove they have been living in Assam legitimately.

Why is the Muslim community afraid?

Since Assam’s independence in 1947, many migrants from Pakistan were trespassing the borders all over India, including Assam. In 1971, it became increasingly common for migrants, which were mainly Muslim, to arrive from East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh.

After East Pakistan became known as Bangladesh, the Government made an announcement in 1972.  It stated that any Bangladeshi who arrived in India before March 25th, 1971 would be allowed to stay.  Anyone arriving after this date would be deported.

Why is the NRC such a sensitive issue?

The officers of the National Register of Citizens Project strongly believe that all of the necessary precautions have been taken to create this register.  With 3.28 million people living in Assam, it takes a bit more time to carefully go over the documents of each citizen. When the register was issued on December 31st, 2017, it was not complete. 

The issue of citizenship and Bangladeshi Muslims in Assam arose politically in 1979 when the foundation of the United Liberation Front of Assam was laid.  Under the leadership of All Assam Students Union (AASU), there were many protests in Assam that lasted for 6 years. Peace was regained in 1985 when the Rajiv Gandhi government of the Center signed the Assam Accord.

The Assam Accord implemented a strict cut-off date of the 25th of March, 1971.  AASU is of the belief that the infiltration of Bangladeshis in Assam is a huge problem.  They see it as not only a threat to the security of the state but also the country as a whole.  AASU supports the NRC.

Ganesh Malviya Bhopal (img 3)Why is this necessary for the country?

On the 13th of  February, 1964, while speaking at the Rajya Sabha, Atal Bihari Vajpayee stated that there were millions of Pakistani intruders living illegally in India. He specifically mentioned the states of West Bengal and Assam as being infiltrating states. 

In 1980, the people of Assam took decisive action against the Bangladeshi infiltration.  This forced the central government to come to an agreement with the Assam agitators. However, the sophisticated agreement that the Central Government drafted, had a number of flaws in its implementation. 

This matter was taken to the court, who took over the identification process of the Bangladeshi intruders.  To date, the process of identifying illegal foreign citizens in Assam is still being done by the court. At first glance, it was noticed that the citizenship of nearly 40 lakhs of people looked a bit suspect.  These people under question were notified and included a politician of the secular Jamat, some journalists, and Mamata Banerjee.

A group began a smear campaign against NRC.  The group argued that those who had come from Assam to Bangladesh had been living in Assam for four decades and had become mixed in with Assam society.  They believed that these people made important contributions towards the development of Assam and should not be deported back to Bangladesh, but rather they should be granted Indian citizenship.

Something else to note is that, in 1971, many people from Purbi fled Pakistan due to the torture of people by the Western Pakistan army.  These people came into India, where they were assisted in any way possible as a humanitarian effort. When the Prime Minister at that time was asked about this and he stated that Bangladesh had now become an independent country and that all of those who had come from there should go back to their country.

It’s well known that this divide of the country is based on Hindu-Muslim.  India and Bangladesh are seen as two countries. Therefore, a visa should be required by anyone coming from one country and entering into the other, or outside of their own country.  The problem with this is that the issue is no longer limited to just Assam.

Is NCR a party-specific issue?

It has become a national issue that is not linked to any particular party.  The issue of infiltration has been a political issue for a long time. However, it is now clear that it has turned into a much bigger, national problem.  While there isn’t an official figure of those infiltrating the country, it is estimated to be relative to a growing population of a particular class. The number of migrants in the 2001 census has been recorded, but there is no data regarding those who have illegally entered the border of India.

Reports have shown that most of these people have arrived from Bangladesh.  Most Bangladeshi infiltrators are in West Bengal, Assam, and Bihar. So the fact is, it is India’s right to move towards creating the NRC.  There will be no international constraints, with many countries continuing to see this type of illegal infiltration that India has been experiencing.   The UN Security Council has asked its member countries to make stricter migration laws, which is a necessary step in controlling terrorism.

You are a well-known figure in Madhya Pradesh BJP and hence know the in and outs. Can you tell us how serious is the BJP about this?

The BJP has included this important issue in its resolution letter given to the media.  Its seriousness about the issue can be seen in the statement of the BJP president, Amit Shah.  Amit Shah has said that if they win the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, then intruders will be identified and taken out of the country.

Amit Shah stated to the public that having illegal intruders within the country was a big issue.  The question is whether they should be removed or not. The number of these intruders has grown to millions, which is battering the country.  Whether they are deported or not is something that we will see once the Government has identified the intruders on a national level.

Author: Steve Seos

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