The CAB and being practical about it

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The CAB and being practical about it

Swapnil Bharali | January 27, 2019 10:31 hrs


In the last episode of In Conversation with Swapnil Bharali – a video series of G Plus that comes over our digital channels - I had a longish chat with state minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma seeking some clarifications on the latest heartburn within the greater indigenous Assamese society with regard to the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 (CAB) in the Lok Sabha. The excerpts from the same have been carried on the centre spread of this issue. If I am to be a practical and sensible indigenous Assamese with a long term desire to continue residing in Guwahati and therefore, Assam I have come to a few conclusions with regard to the current state of affairs prevailing. Even as I write this piece, I am asking myself whether there is any prejudice in me and my thoughts. With a clear conscience and in all humility, I confidently submit that this piece is bereft of any personal bias or emotions and is an attempt at rationally tackling the situation.

We are faced with three entities today who are all residing in Assam: the “illegal migrants” (mainly Muslims from Bangladesh who have, over the years, entered Assam illegally and occupied farmlands and grazing grounds), the “refugees” (mainly Hindus from Bangladesh who have fled religious persecution and sought refuge in India post 1971) and finally the indigenous Assamese population (that includes the various tribes and other Indian communities like Marwaris, Biharis, Bengalis etc). Figures in each case have been quoted by the minister and may be checked on the centre spread.

 

Now, the CAB seeks to grant citizenship under flexible norms to the refugees while seeking to alienate the illegal migrants making them stateless citizens. The detection part in each instance would be done when the updation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is complete. While India is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention 1951 of the United Nations, it is a norm under international laws for countries to absorb refugees while ensuring that its sovereignty is not threatened. Having said this, the current dispensation, given its ideologies, is desirous of doing the needful favouring the refugees and they are well in position to do that through all the legal means; it has made its intentions more than clear.

 

And so, it is left for us – the indigenous Assamese people - to be practical and realistic about the situation and not get swayed by emotions especially because the numbers are not with us; they never were – not during AGP, not Congress and not now. Agitating and protesting are well within our democratic rights but the reasons for the same need to be discerned. The government has promised full implementation of Clause 6; henceforth it would be more prudent on our part to keep a close watch on this and launch vehement protests should we feel the same is not being done. The CAB is here to stay and the only way forward is greater inter-community assimilation forming one greater peaceful society while keeping our language and culture as robust as it is today. In short, we need to be practical and vigilant.

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