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States » East

In shadow of 'contradictory' NRC and Citizenship Amendment Bill

In shadow of 'contradictory' NRC and Citizenship Amendment Bill

By Anish Bhattacharya

Ambassa (Tripura), Feb 2 (UNI) The most recent and "contradictory" National Register of Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship Amendment Bill have created much turmoil and agony among the tribes and non-tribes in the entire Northeast including Tripura.

The turmoil is so much that even the royal scion of Tripura has got involved in the issue.

The NRC has been in force to mark out the illegal immigrants in India; and, on the contrary, the Citizenship Amendment Bill is to entitle certain immigrant community as Indians.

This has created a popular discontent among the tribes especially residing in the northeastern states. And it is not unreasonable as many of tribes in their erstwhile tribe-dominant states have turned minority due to the influx of Bengali community from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh.

The immigration of people from other countries in India has remained in practice since Independence. The Partition Riots of 1946, the Bangladesh Independence War of 1971, the Chinese aggression on Tibet and the communal anti-Hindu riots and massacres in Bangladesh and Pakistan have flooded certain regions of India with illegal immigrants. According to the report on 2001 Census the number of illegal immigrants in India has been 1.5 crore with an average annual influx of 3 lakhs.

On 14th of July 2004, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Sriprkash Jaisawal, made a statement in Parliament claiming that almost 12 million Bangladeshi infiltrators were residing in India, and West Bengal has topped the list with 5.7 million Bangladeshis.

Most recently, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, informed the number of illegal immigrants to be 20 million.

The former Tripura Governor, Tathagata Roy, and former Assam Governor Lt Gen (Retd), Ajai Singh, have separately focused on the infiltration at a large-scale. And as the linguistic, cultural and habitual similarities prevail among the people of Bangladesh and Indian states of Tripura, West Bengal and Assam in many cases hence the immigration often has remained unnoticed.

It has also been alleged that certain main political parties did not take infiltration very seriously and they took soft line on the issue due to vested political reasons.

Now, in case of Tripura, the direct impact of infiltration is that it has turned the tribes a minority in their own state.

The political observers in the state think that the socio-economic issues like deprivation, exploitation, hunger and poverty have turned the tribes hostile towards the Bengali community. And some of them have even chosen the violent track of insurgency, which has hit the entire region for decades with blood-sheds, kidnapping and other crimes.

At the same time, cross-border smuggling, arms dealing and even human trafficking have remained the by-products of infiltration.

Adding to that, the rights of the ethnic tribes on land and the natural resources have also been denied.

And, anti-social elements have also taken over. According to a report of Centre for Women and Children Studies, almost 64,000 Bangladeshi women have been forced into prostitution.

At this point, the work of NRC has created an atmosphere of hope among the tribes that after a long waiting, they would be in a position to get back their rights, to preserve their ethnicity and uniqueness.

But, at the same time, in a contradictory move, the Union Government has become keen enough to implement Citizenship Amendment Bill into force. And as it will generously permit certain communities of the infiltrators to be Indians hence it has given rise to discontent again.

These privileged communities are in majority n the Northeastern region, hence the government needs to handle the situation with much care and discuss with the tribes about the Bill openly so that there is no wrong conception about it.


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