An exercise in futility?

Saturday, 04 April 2020



An exercise in futility?

Swapnil Bharali | August 04, 2018 16:10 hrs

To all appearances, the mammoth NRC exercise seems done and dusted for the moment. Such was the scale and enormity of the task that at one point we wondered whether the Register will at all see the light of the day. But it was done much to relief of nearly 88% of the state’s population. The fate of the balance, hopefully, will be sorted out in a peaceful manner through the “Claims & Objections” procedure being mulled by the government. And so, congratulations to all!


But is it really congratulatory times? Learned observers and journalists of impeccable reputation have ventured to term the whole effort as an exercise in futility. And not without reason. As Amit Shah put it in the Parliament, “The NRC is the soul of the Assam Accord.” And the base of the Assam Accord is the date of 25th March, 1971. Under what duress did the Prafulla Mahanta led All Assam Students’ Union agree to this cut-off date in absolute disparity with the rest of India (which is 1951) is another matter of debate and discussion. Today, the fact of the matter remains that Assam has been made distinctly different from the rest of India and yet is being dragged to function in parity with it.


To corroborate my point, I will offer just one remark of a petitioner whose petition at the Supreme Court of India (SC) challenging the constitutional validity of Assam’s cut-off date is yet to be deliberated upon; a verdict seems beyond the horizon at the moment. “How can a memorandum of settlement [the Assam Accord] between a students’ organisation and the home ministry be a legal document?” asked Matiur Rahman of the Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha. “If the Supreme Court considers Assam a part of India, it will rule in our favour. This whole provision of a different cut-off date for a single state is extremely discriminatory. Are we a colony of India or part of it?”


Well, this says it all. If the law of the land is to be equal for all (at least on paper) as is much touted, then this NRC is discriminatory at its very base. Given this, if the SC decides to restore parity of law, the NRC has been nothing but an exercise in futility.

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