Ahead of NRC, security beefed up in Assam
AASU leader Samujjal Bhattacharya believes that it is the indigenous people of Assam who have always been living in fear of losing their rights.
GUWAHATI JULY 5 While the Assam government is making all possible efforts to strengthen the security apparatus ahead of the publication of the final draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC) on July 30, leaders of various state organizations have expressed their concern on different aspects.
On Wednesday, Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) reviewed the law and order situation in Assam and took stock of the state’s preparedness in the wake of NRC publication. A review meeting was held in New Delhi, which was attended by state NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela, Director General of Assam Police Kuladhar Saikia, State Chief Secretary TY Das, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Joint Secretary (Northeast) Satyendra Garg, among other officials.
Earlier, the state government had asked Centre for 150 companies of Central paramilitary forces (CPMF) to be deployed across the state. Security forces have already identified sensitive zones in each district, and Assam police have started monitoring social media platforms to keep a check on rumors and inappropriate content.
Speaking to News18, Samujjal Bhattacharya, chief advisor of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) said that in the process of maintaining law and order, the government should not compromise with the core issue – of bringing out a quality NRC.
“Law and order is a responsibility of the government. But even as the government talks about ensuring a ‘peaceful’ atmosphere, there must be no compromise on quality. There should be no lax management in NRC updation process. We have waited for 32 years… There must not be any illegal Bangladeshi in the NRC draft,” said Bhattacharya.
On the other hand, peasant organization Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader, Akhil Gogoi, alleged that the government is trying to create a ‘panic situation’ in the state by organizing ‘meetings and mock drills’ on NRC.
“There was no fear among people till now. Everyone thought that the NRC updation process would end peacefully. But the state government has taken different steps to generate fear and create a panic situation,” said Akhil Gogoi. He further alleged that the BJP-led coalition government in Assam is actually trying to create ‘unrest’ by publicizing their security arrangements.
“The government has sought massive security from Centre, and has skillfully publicized it. They have demonstrated through mock drills how protesters can pelt stones in the wake of unrest. These drills should have been done in secrecy,” said the KMSS chief.
AASU leader Samujjal Bhattacharya believes that it is the indigenous people of Assam who have always been living in fear of losing their rights. “It is the indigenous people who are living in fear. Tripura lost its mother tongue Kokborok. We don’t want to become second class citizens like those in Tripura,” said Bhattacharya.
Siddique Ahmed, a former minister and Congress leader from Karimganj took it a step further alleging that the government is trying to create a ‘Myanmar-like situation’ in Assam. “The government is trying to create a situation that could be worse than Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. They have brought about a divide between people of Brahmaputra and Barak valleys,” said Ahmed.
Former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, however, refuted Ahmed’s allegations saying that he does not foresee any situation of that magnitude.“I don’t think we will have any situation like Myanmar, but of course, there will be a resentment among indigenous people if their names don’t feature in the NRC list,” said Gogoi.
Expressing concern, the 82-year-old leader criticized former Union home secretary GK Pillai’s statement of working out a solution by granting work permit to those whose names would be left out of final NRC. “Granting work permit to foreigners is dangerous. Not just Pillai, but even Vajpayee talked about giving work permit to foreigners. My government had opposed it, and I am still against it. But strangely, no organization has protested yet,” said Gogoi.
The Supreme Court extended the deadline for publication of the final draft of NRC to July 30 after state NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela informed that it would not be possible to meet the June 30 deadline due to floods in the state.
As per the Supreme Court’s directive, the first draft of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) was published on the night of December 31, 2017 that included the names of 1.9 crore out of 3.29 crore applicants.
Meanwhile, names of around 1.15 lakh people in the first draft would be excluded from the final draft NRC. Hajela said that a total of 65,694 false cases have come to the fore during the Family Tree verification process, and another 48,456 cases of married women who submitted Panchayat certificates for linkage have been found non-admissible during re-verification process.