Manoj Chaturvedi from Mumbai
A Bengali “nationalist” from West Bengal, Subir Bhaumik has been writing articles in several newspapers, including the South China Morning Post (SCMP) clearly with the ulterior motives of giving instigation to uprise of anti-India sentiment amongst the Bengalis in India. He has also been drastically violating laws by spreading propaganda pertaining three million Bangla-speaking Muslims in the Indian state of Assam.
On December 11, 2018, Bhaumik wrote an article in the South China Morning Post (SCMP). In this article titled “Deportation and detention: 3 million face statelessness in Assam” he not only has harshly criticized the National Register of Citizens (NRC) but has tried to give instigations to Bangla-speaking Indians in waging anti-India separatist movement. At the beginning of the article, Bhaumik wrote, “Register of Citizens (NRC) fast approaching, about three and a half million Bengali Hindus and Muslims could be left without citizenship as they lack documentary evidence for their claims.”
He further wrote, “Under an amendment proposed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, citizenship would be granted only to Hindus and other non-Muslim minorities who migrated from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.”
First of all, let us understand – what is NRC. The National Register of Citizens is a comprehensive list of all citizens of India. It was prepared for the first and only time for the whole of India in 1951, after the first census of the country that year. Even though it ought to have been updated every decade since then, that was never done.
Now it is important to know the reasons behind updating the NRC. The entire exercise stems from the Assam Accord of 1985, signed between leaders of the Assam anti-foreigners’ movement and the Union government in the presence of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The movement was launched by student bodies and other organizations against the large-scale presence of illegal Bangladeshi migrants in Assam. Such was the magnitude of this migration that the indigenous Assamese faced the prospect of being reduced to a minority in their own land. The Assam Accord promised to detect and deport all ‘foreigners’ from Assam’s soil.
The cut-off date for the detection of such ‘foreigners’ was set at midnight, 24 March 1971, when Bangladesh formally came into being. After many hurdles, and thanks also to foot-dragging by Congress regimes in the state, the process of updating the NRC for Assam, as agreed to under the Assam Accord, was delayed. Finally, a pilot project was launched in the Muslim-dominated Barpeta district of Assam, but the exercise was derailed after massive violence was unleashed by the minority organizations, led by the All Assam Minority Students Union.
But the Supreme Court finally intervened and ordered the Registrar General of India (RGI) to update the NRC for Assam. The apex court also ordered the Assam government to extend all help. The Supreme Court has since been strictly monitoring the entire exercise and set strict timelines for its completion. The court has also turned down the Assam government’s plea for more time to complete the exercise.
Thus, the NRC update exercise in Assam is mandated and monitored by the Supreme Court and done as per the Assam Accord of 1985. Any criticism of the exercise is thus tantamount to contempt of the apex court.
It is important to note, the initiatives of NRC has received positive coverage in the Indian media while for any Indian national, criticizing NRC or any attempt of making it controversial is unwelcomed and even may be considered as an offense. But, Subir Bhaumik, being an Indian national evidently is not inclined in looking into India’s interest. Instead, his purpose or agenda is different. He has been trying to use this issue as an effective weapon in giving instigations to those Bangla-speaking residents of this country in revolting against Delhi. Possibly, at the back of his mind, Bhaumik is dreaming of disintegrating West Bengal and the north-eastern states from India. He may even be dreaming of letting West Bengal become a part of Bangladesh by “liberating” from India. Such actions definitely are seditious.
All of us know implementation of expelling illegal immigrants from India following the updating of NRC is being paused because of the upcoming general election in Bangladesh, as policymakers in New Delhi are thinking; such expulsions may great affect the election result against Awami League, a party known for its friendly attitude towards India. On the other hand, Islamist opposition in Bangladesh has accused the Awami League of being an Indian surrogate and not strong enough to stand up for the national interest. Under such circumstance, should India start expulsion of these illegal immigrants before the Bangladesh general election, it might actually have a negative impact on the ruling party in Dhaka. But at the same time, we need to remember a point, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in fact needs to expel those illegal immigrants much ahead of the 2019 general election. Here again, failure in expelling the illegal immigrants may greatly cause harm to BJP’s electoral interests.
Considering these facts, it is evidently clear, Subir Bhaumik and individuals like him are trying to use the NRC card for some ulterior purposes. Although Bhaumik pretends to be a critic of Pakistani spy agency ISI, he in fact might be a snake in the sleeve or wolf in sheep’s clothing. His activities evidently prove – Subir Bhaumik actually is working against the interest of India.
Manoj Chaturvedi is a retired civil servant
Disclaimer: Opinion expressed in this article is of the author and may not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Blitz.