Posted by Anuprova Ghosh
The NRC (National Register of Citizens) and CAA (Citizenship Amendment Bill) has wreaked a havoc in Assam especially on the minority communities who were and have been struggling very hard to establish themselves as a part of the soil of Assam.
Firstly, the idea of who is an ‘Assamese’ is debatable. A child who is born in the United States of America from parents who consider themselves Assamese might not be considering themselves to be an Assamese but an American born in the states of America. Inversely, to assume that everyone staying in Assam and speaking Assamese would be an ‘Assamese’ too would be an over-statement. Identities are fluid and it can change depending on the ideologies, perceptions and experiences of individuals. So it cannot be imposed or assumed on overt nationalistic and jingoistic lines.
In the month of December, 2019, the passage of CAB (Citizenship Amendment Bill), now CAA has caused an uproar in the region. Since the time CAB was introduced in the lower house, there was a huge tumult that broke out region yet it was passed in the Upper House to be converted into a full-fledged act (Citizenship Amendment Act). The Centre could easily stall this move at that juncture when the situation in Assam became such tense over the introduction of the Bill. But of course, that was not considered.
In the month of December, 2019, the passage of CAB (Citizenship Amendment Bill) has caused an uproar in the region. Since the time CAB was introduced in the lower house, there was a huge tumult that broke out region yet it was passed in the Upper House to be converted into a full-fledged act (Citizenship Amendment Act).
In such a situation, while I was taking a flight to Delhi, there was a huge group of Bengali speaking Muslim people were travelling by the same flight to Delhi. I could notice them entering the airport premises in a queue but could not understand what was going on in between. To my surprise, I later found out that they had stickers stuck on their hand baggage that acted as markers of their identities as citizens of India. It had their names, their passport numbers, the names of their fathers and where they belonged to in Assam.
The concept of legality and illegality is farcical in itself, as far as the citizenship or CAA question is concerned. The procedure that is undertaken to eliminate people from being the citizens of the country too is not free from loopholes. In Assam, there are instances where from one particular family, while half the members could manage to get their names included in the NRC list, two of them have been excluded.
Now, it cannot be a case where other than rest of the family members only two of them are foreigners. And these cases have come up mostly from the marginalised sections who do not have enough resources in hand to be vocal enough against these arbitrary moves. Questions and counter questions meant to intimidate people into accepting that they are not the residents of Assam but have crossed over the boundary from Bangladesh has been the sole weapon.
these cases have come up mostly from the marginalised sections who do not have enough resources in hand to be vocal enough against these arbitrary moves. Questions and counter questions meant to intimidate people into accepting that they are not the residents of Assam but have crossed over the boundary from Bangladesh has been the sole weapon.
Migration is a global phenomenon and is not isolated to India. It certainly leads to demographic explosion but it cannot be stopped at any point of time in human civilization. It brings in cultural exchanges, assimilation and hybridity that in turn brings in progress and development for an economy. For instance, pumping in of foreign money within a country’s economy not only leads to inflation but also as the economists say, it is the high point where in generation of employment opportunities comes up.
So in that sense how can migration become such a fuss? Just because inflow is happening from the developing or underdeveloped country so to speak?
Inflow of foreign money from the ‘developed’ countries is welcome but when the question is about migration of people from foreign countries that are under developed or is still developing, it is always frowned upon. Certainly, it can create demographic pressure on the land mass. But there are of course better ways to manage migration and migrants so to speak. Human rights violation is not what is sought after just on the assumption that culture and indigeneity of the citizens get endangered just because there are new people coming in. That anxiety has to be done away with.
We clearly have to get our stances rights, as to which position do we take as far as the CAA question is concerned. It is high time that injustices have to be checked and the recurring state inflicted violence of communal and socio-economic lines need to be thwarted.
Anuprova is a researcher working on a Migration Study project in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and North East Network, Guwahati. She has been working on academic research projects since the last two years. Before this, she has worked in North Eastern Social Research Centre, Guwahati where she worked on Customary Laws of the tribes in North East India. She is an ardent enthusiast in learning and writing on gender, society, culture and politics and have written and published some manuscripts and papers during her tenure in the field of research. She has also participated in activist research works being a part of North East Network. You can find Anuprova on Facebook and Twitter.
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