The National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) have redefined India forever.
If for some, the NRC is an absolute necessity in India to weed out the illegal migrants, but for a large section, it is a matter of not only gross human rights violation but also ‘religious persecution’ in disguise.
The world is largely shocked as the Centre attempted a pan-India NRC after successfully bringing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
India might have tried to handle all these by projecting NRC-CAA as an ‘internal matter’, but in summary, the hardcore Hindutva of new India has not gone down well with rest of the world.
Even a prime ministerial denial of a pan-India NRC did not cool off the heat till COVID-19 changed the world dynamics forever.
The damage is much more within India as it is now broadly divided into two sides – pro and anti-NRC-CAA.
But there is a third side. That is Assam, where it had all begun.
For the world, this has been an unbelievable exercise of making 1.9 million people stateless by a judiciary-driven exercise of the state, parallel to what is nowhere to be seen in any parts of the world.
All the political parties have tried to gain mileage out of it without working on a tangible solution. They had turned the infiltration issue into a milking cow.
This book ‘The Game Called NRC’ is just documentation of this humongous project in Assam. Never in the history of India, was such a mammoth project conducted. Sadly, now nobody is willing to take it home.
But we thought it must be documented for posterity. Because next-generation may find it difficult to believe that nine million people of Assam had moved from one place to another to prove their citizenships and individually spent shocking amounts of money to procure the long-lost papers needed to prove their citizenship and in the process ruining thousands of families and killing many and not to mention of the Rs 1,500 crores expenditures from the state exchequer to make a list of citizen which make nobody happy.
We can only pray the future generation of Assamese will not look up to this generation of Assamese ‘as optimists of the highest order or the greatest idiots in human history or both’.
It has been one year since NRC was published. But there has been an eerie silence on the NRC front. The Registrar General of India has not yet owned it formally.
The Supreme Court is not moving on the rectification pleas. Rejection slips are not issued to the 19 lakhs. The Foreigners Tribunals are jobless. The NRC secretariat is just the keeper of the records, waiting for a political signal which is not coming.
As someone who spent his entire adulthood chasing a dream of making Assam Bangladeshi-free – first as an activist of the Assam Agitation and then as a journalist for more than three and half decades – I think I can now say like many, that our lives and energy have also been wasted.
When the Assam Accord failed, Assam settled for NRC. But when NRC too failed, Assam sought refuge in Clause VI. And now! The fate of Clause VI hangs in the morbid air of Assam.
The cycle continues… The game continues…
(Mrinal Talukdar’s book ‘The Game Called NRC’ is out on Amazon)