Intellectuals and political leaders flay BJP govt’s attempt to jeopardies the citizenship of 27 lakh Muslim women


By Abdul Bari Masoud,

New Delhi:  Expressing grave concern over the citizenship issue in Assam on Tuesday, intellectuals, activists and political leaders alleged that despite Supreme Court’s monitoring the BJP-led governments at the Center and in Assam has been forcefully trying to obstruct the ongoing process of updating the NRC. They warned that the Assam might become a new Myanmar if the state government does not stop meddling in the matter  as more than 27 lakh women’s citizenship is in jeopardy.

Speaking at a Public meeting on “the Current political Impasse in Assam: Updating the National Register of Citizens”, Prof (Dr.) Hiren Gohain from Assam said the BJP-led state government has pushed Assam into a very terrible situation and rest of the country does know what is happening there. He said the NRC updating must be carried under the supervision of the Supreme Court and conditions stated originally by the apex court for identification of citizens must not be tampered with as 27 lakh citizens’ nationality is under threat.

Another public intellectual from Assam, Prof Apurba Baruah said it is not an issue of only Assam but the citizens of India and we do not want they are deprived of citizenship.

We are here to enlighten the public about the grave situation as the BJP government in the state is playing politics with this sensitive issue, Prof Baruah said.

The Assam Accord, 1985 provides an important foundation to settle the complicated and sensitive issue of the presence of “foreigners” in the state, especially by determining the “base year” for identification of foreigners, he said.

Echoing his views, noted lawyer from Guwahati Hafiz Rasheed Chaudhry said the state government is tinkering with the guidelines set by the Apex court for the identification.   Because of this, nearly 4.8 million women’s citizenship has pushed in jeopardy, he said.

He said Assamese Muslims of East Bengali origin and a section of Bengali Hindus have been targeted and victimized under the usual suspicion of being doubtful voters (“D-voters”).

Speaking on the occasion,  the Jamait ulama-i-Hind president  Maulana Arshad Madani said the  Gauwhati High Court had put a question mark on the nationality of some 4.8 million married women of Assam by declaring that a certificate issued by the Goan Panchayat Secretary and counter-signed by the Revenue Officer of the State is not a valid document.

In response to a question, Maulana Madni drew a parallel between Assam and Myanmar saying first Rohingyas were denied voting rights and they were pushed into Bangladesh while the same is happening Assam where 2.7 m women might be deprived of their citizenship.

“If these married women deprived off their citizenship of a flimsy ground, then around 75 lakh people will need to expel from the state and no country (Bangladesh) will accept them”.

What will happen with these women if they deprive of citizenship who will have 2-3 children along with them? Whether they will be thrown into the sea or any country will accept this huge number of refugees, Maulana Madani asked.

The state government’s intent was exposed after it refused to accept Panchayat certificates as a link document for citizenship, he said and added that the apex court has criticized the Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal, for such uncalled-for interventions by his government.

He warned that such attempts will have serious consequence on the unity and integrity of the country.

Speaking at a Public meeting on “the Current political Impasse in Assam: Updating the National Register of Citizens” here at the Constitution Club,  Maulana Madani said it seems to be a conspiracy to push these genuine citizens of India into Bangladesh on a flimsy ground for sake of petty political gains.

Speakers said the need to prepare an NRC has been felt among both the majority and minority communities in Assam. An authentic NRC could assure the indigenous communities in Assam against the perceived fear of ongoing illegal immigration and simultaneously safeguard the minority communities from institutional and public harassment in the name of suspicion. Therefore, the people of Assam have willingly and actively facilitated the arduous and lengthy process of updating the NRC and are hopeful of a positive outcome. Most of the people in Assam stand reassured regarding an updated and accurate NRC as the Supreme Court has borne the responsibility to direct and oversee the entire process. But it has also been alarmingly observed that the ruling BJP government has been forcefully trying to obstruct the ongoing process of updating the NRC. The Supreme Court has even criticized the Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal, for such uncalled-for interventions by his government.

On the occasion, Prof Yogendra  Yadav,  Supreme Court lawyer Colin Gonsalves,  former editor of  Assomiya Partidin  Hyder Husain,  journalist Manjit Mohanto, Congress MP Pratap Singh Baajwa and others also spoke and announced their all possible support to the people of Assam. The meeting was organized by  Delhi Action Committee for Assam.

They strongly advocated that citizenship issue should be decided on the basis of March 25, 1971 as cut off year and not 1951 and genuine citizens should not be harassed.

It is to be mentioned here that some 14 organizations have filed their petitions in the apex court against the 1971 cutoff date for citizenship in Assam.The communal groups aim is to target Muslims in the name of foreigners. Muslim-dominated areas are being regularly attacked and this has forced a large population to live in camps. Successive governments have been responsible for creating such a  Jamait ulema -e- Hind, Assam Minorities Students Union and Citizens Rights Reservation Committee have approached the Supreme Court to oppose these petitions. Now the matter is referred to a five-member Constitution Bench and final proceeding s may commence in the coming summer vacation.


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