Refugee Rights: Assam
What's Going On In Assam?
On the 30th of July, the final draft of The National Register of Citizens was published, excluding four million people from citizenship.
Targeting the weakest members of religious and linguistic minorities, we can assume that, ‘despairingly called Miyas, Muslims of East Bengal origin are the most exposed to danger’.
Those left on the list have been given until the end of September to prove that they are “Indian”, however, 55% of the four million are mostly poor women. Women who never had the opportunity to attend school never had their births or marriages registered, who don't have the financial means to appeal even if they have been living in Assam since British colonial years. The final list is said to be released possibly early next year, meaning it is the poor Nellie massacre survivors and other minorities with no money, power or legal representation who will suffer.
As per directions of the Supreme Court, the Registrar General of India (RGI) is to publish the final draft list on July 30 to segregate Indian citizens living in Assam from those who had “illegally” entered the State from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.
The Assamese have been on a hunt to separate the ‘indigenous’ from the ‘non-indigenous’ inhabitants based on the electoral rolls of 1952 and the National Register of Citizens of 1951. The anti-foreigner activists persist in their attempts to erase the memory that Assam has always served as a melting pot of a remarkably diverse population; they want to use the nativist agenda to further their own cause of ethnic and linguistic hegemonism.
As tensions arise within Assam, there have already been numerous reported cases of violent mob attacks targeting those of who were not on the list. As the final publication is set to be published in January 2019, minorities within Assam are getting ready for tumultuous months ahead.
Whats even more worrying is how the rest of India is reacting to the NRC, whilst Jharkhand plans a ‘citizens register to weed out Bangladeshis and Rohingyas’, BJP’s Telangana MLA Raja Singh went out to publicly announce that, “If these Rohingyas and Bangladeshi illegal immigrants do not leave India respectfully, then they should be shot and eliminated”. As fascism becomes more and more normalised within India and other regions wanting to implement the NRC, where does that leave Bengalis/Bangladeshis and other minorities within India. Where do you go when your home doesn't want you?
According to Gregory H. Stanton, (President of Genocide Watch), there are eight stages of genocide: Classification, Symbolisation, Dehumanisation, Organisation, Polarisation, Preparation, Extermination and Denial. Within the context of Assam, the NRC list can be interpreted as number 6: Preparation. When the victims are identified and separated out due to their ethnic, linguistic, or religious identity.
Citizenship is an invented category, manipulated to serve state interests. How valid is the NRC list, when citizenship in Assam is being determined on the basis of the date you entered into the state? If they had entered India a day before the cut off date, could they be considered Indian?
To have your citizenship removed is to be stripped of your humanity. Having the label of foreigner or Bangladeshi is now seen as legitimate grounds for your detention, deportation and even death.
The fate of those who have not been included on the final publication in January 2019 is yet to be determined, as Bangladesh is unlikely to make any deal with India. The question remains, will there be a forced mass exodus or will these 4 million be left to die within detention centres?