Guwahati, January 3, 2017
On the midnight of December 31st, 2017, Assam waited with bated breaths for the release of 1st draft of NRC as a wave of insecurity passed through the state. People were full of doubts about the exercise lest their names failed to appear in the list and should they be declared ‘foreigners’ or ‘Bangladeshis’ by the state government.
The release of the 1st draft NRC brought to limelight an instance whereby a man from Karimganj in Silchar killed himself by suicide after not having his name in the list. Speaking to his family members including his wife confirmed that he was insecure and already doubtful about not having his name in the list and when his insecurities took the form of reality, he chose to hang himself by a tree.
Despite the fact that this is only the first draft and repeated assurances by the government to the public asking them not to panic, many seem to be inconsolable due to their insecurities.
Among many such people include Badruddin Ajmal from Dhubri, perfume baron and member of the Lok Sabha from opposition AIUDF party. Though the first draft of the NRC is not decisive of the Indian citizenship, non-inclusion of Ajmal’s name, who is seen as the leader of minority politics in Assam can very well be indicative of Assam’s shifting political narrative.
And the irony is that while the name of the most powerful minority leader in Assam went missing, self-styled commander-in-chief of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) militant group Paresh Baruah – one of India’s most-wanted successfully found place in it.
Ajmal who emerged in Assam’s politics only in the year 2005 is seen as a leader migrant Bengali Muslims, a section of people which has a contesting political relationship with Assamese speaking people. Being a Bengali speaking Muslim himself, whose forefathers migrated from erstwhile East Pakistan, Ajmal and his party AIUDF swayed over Bengali speaking Muslims in Assam adding a totally different dimension to the Assamese identity politics with his own style of political activity.
While on the other hand we have ULFA leader Paresh Baruah whose very sole purpose of initiating the body was to establish a sovereign Assam with an armed struggle in the Assam conflict. The government of India banned the organisation in 1990 citing it as a terrorist organisation, while the United States Department of State lists it under “other groups of concern”.
A person who uses several aliases, namely, Kamruj Zaman Khan, Nur-uz-Zaman and Zaman Bhai has managed to find a place as Assam’s genuine resident despite the fact that he has been responsible for killings of the residents of Assam itself makes the NRC a pretty ironic draft. Nonetheless, this is not a talk about who is genuine and who is not, but more so, of the contributions a person or rather a resident of Assam has made for the larger good of the community as a whole. If citizenship was something that needed to be earned, I am sure many would not have been able to find a place not only in the NRC 1st draft but also in all the following drafts.
The writer of the article has requested to remain anonymous
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