Hu­man­i­tar­ian woes in As­sam

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - OPINION -

THE ex­clu­sion of 4 mil­lion peo­ple from the draft As­sam ci­ti­zen­ship list rep­re­sents a hu­man­i­tar­ian prob­lem of enor­mous pro­por­tions.

The fu­ture of these po­ten­tially state­less peo­ple hangs in the bal­ance. Stripped of ci­ti­zen­ship, they will be­come vul­ner­a­ble and face threats to their lives, lands and liveli­hoods.

For those who have been liv­ing in a place for gen­er­a­tions, the prospect of be­ing sent to de­ten­tion camps or be­ing de­ported is hard to think of. Poor, il­lit­er­ate res­i­dents were asked to pro­duce pre-1971 doc­u­ments as proof of ci­ti­zen­ship.

Strangely, even those who were in pos­ses­sion of Aad­haar (IDs) and pass­ports were left out of the na­tional reg­is­ter of cit­i­zens.

They face the risk that they will be dis­carded as state­less per­sons within As­sam, their home for years, if not decades or gen­er­a­tions.

What­ever the out­come, the is­sue comes at a very sen­si­tive time, when In­dian so­ci­ety is ex­tremely di­vided, with mob at­tacks and lynch­ings be­com­ing com­mon, and with most of the vic­tims be­ing Mus­lims or Dal­its.

The con­tro­versy over the Na­tional Reg­is­ter of Cit­i­zens could add fuel to the fire. This is how geno­cides be­gin – how the night­mare of the Ro­hingya be­gan.

Zaakir Said

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