The All India Matua Mahasangha on Wednesday blocked rail tracks at various stations in Eastern Railway’s Sealdah section in protest against the Assam government’s draft of the National Register of Citizens, PTI reported. The organisation, which works for members of backward classes, has claimed that the complete draft of the NRC will leave many people homeless.
Train movement was hampered in Sealdah-Hasnabad, Sealbad-Naihati lines after protestors blocked tracks during peak hours, Easter Railway spokesperson RN Mahapatra told PTI. “We are requesting and trying to convince the agitators to lift the blockades,” Mahapatra said.
The final draft of the National Register of Citizens verifies 2.89 crore people, out of the 3.29 crore who had applied, as legal citizens of India. The stated aim of the counting exercise is to separate genuine Indian citizens from so-called illegal migrants who might be living in the state. According to the terms of the exercise, anyone who could not prove that they or their ancestors had entered the state before midnight on March 24, 1971, would be declared a foreigner.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s youth wing on Tuesday filed a police complaint against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her remarks, accusing her of trying to incite tension. Banerjee had accused the BJP of dividing people using the NRC. “The situation cannot be tolerated. There will be a civil war, bloodbath in the country,” Banerjee had claimed.
Union minister Kiren Rijiju said Banerjee’s comments on the draft NRC were condemnable. “It is the duty of the chief minister to maintain law and order in the state and not incite violence,” Rijiju told reporters.
‘People entering another country for jobs are infiltrators’
Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy on Tuesday claimed that people who enter another country in search of employment or economic opportunities are infiltrators. “Those who are howling about the exclusion of people from the final draft of Assam NRC are advised to read the definition of the word ‘refugee’ given by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,” Roy said in a series of tweets.
He added: “As per UNHCR definition (which, for some reason, is still not formally accepted by government of India), Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists fleeing Bangladesh and Pakistan are refugees. Muslims entering India ARE NOT REFUGEES, because they faced no persecution in their home countries.”
BJP should clarify stand on Citizenship Bill: Tarun Gogoi
Former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi asked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government to clarify its stand on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. “When the protests against the Citizenship Bill were getting strong, Sonowal [Assam chief minister] and his party [BJP] had claimed they would not take any step that would go against the interests of Assam and her people,” The Hindu reported on Wednesday. “They also said they would make their stand clear on the Citizenship Bill after the publication of the NRC draft. Will they keep their word?”
The bill aims to make certain crucial changes to the Citizenship Act of 1955. It allows illegal migrants who are Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to become eligible for citizenship. The clauses of the amendment imply that citizenship will be facilitated only for non-Muslim minorities from the three countries.
Gogoi also asked the BJP not to take credit for the NRC being updated, adding that it was his baby. “It was started during [former prime minister] Manmohan Singhji’s time,” Gogoi told The Indian Express. “But our case is that the way it has been prepared, the way the final list was published, it is full of mistakes. It is not foolproof...We want it to be fully corrected… Because of the BJP government’s short-sighted politics, they are creating all sorts of problems.”
Conspiracy behind NRC exclusions, claims Congress
Meanwhile, the Congress unit in Tripura alleged that there was a conspiracy behind excluding 40 lakh people in Assam from the draft NRC.
“Genuine citizens with valid documents have been excluded only to drive them out of Assam,” Tripura Pradesh Congress chief Birajit Sinha said on Tuesday. “It’s a pre-planned conspiracy of the Centre and Assam government. Those whose names do not figure in the draft NRC are mostly Bengali Muslims, Bengali Hindus and Manipuris.”