Kolkata

Campaign against NRC takes effect in Kolkata

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Committee says that 25 lakh of those expected to be dropped from the list are Bengali Hindus and rest are Muslims

Sitting in a central Kolkata guest house, Topodhir Bhattacharya, 69, nearly broke down. He took a good half-an-hour to recover to argue that he was born in Silchar town in south Assam in 1949.

“My father was a freedom fighter. I have always stayed and worked in Silchar and ended up as the Vice-Chancellor [V-C] of Assam University, a Central university, where the Vice-Chancellor is appointed by the President. But I’m not a citizen of this country,” his voice choked. The first draft of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC), 1951 was published on December 31, 2017 and Mr. Bhattacharya and his family members did not feature on the list. “It effectively means that we are not citizens of India,” he said. Less than 30% residents of three districts of Bengali-dominated Barak Valley featured in the first list of NRC. The second list is expected on June 30. The process may get delayed due to floods in Assam, the officials said.

“They asked for my birth certificate. We never used to have one in 1949,” said Mr. Bhattacharya, a well-known writer of Assam. Eventually, he and others formed the Citizen Rights Protection Coordination Committee-Assam [CRPCCA] to resist NRC in Assam. They are campaigning in Kolkata about the impact of NRC.

The committee estimates about 70 lakh of Assam’s three crore people are “likely” to be dropped off the NRC list in phases. At least 25 lakh of those expected to be dropped are Bengali Hindus, while the rest are Bengali Muslims. The figures are calculated on the basis of identity clarification sought from the Central government’s various departments and the States, the committee’s office-bearers indicated.

“This will not be done at one go but in phases; some will be taken to camps, some will be given notices and even some people will be included in the list but all of them will be turned Stateless,” said a Professor of North Eastern Hill University, Prasenjit Biswas, also a member of CRPCCA.

Only in Assam

“Although it is called a ‘national’ register, it is carried out solely in Assam, under the amended sub-rules of 4A of Citizenship Rules, 2003. It is against fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution,” he said.

In a seminar in Kolkata, one of the general secretaries of Bengal BJP, Sayantan Basu, argued said that “in order to ensure that the country is not owned by the foreigners, NRC is necessary.”“If need be, when BJP comes to power in West Bengal, NRC will be conducted here,” Mr. Basu said. On behalf of Bangla Pokkho, a pressure group, Garga Chatterjee challenged NRC in the seminar. “Assam is a laboratory and some experiments are going on in Assam. It would be put to practice in Bengal. NRC has to be stopped now,” Mr. Chatterjee said.

Congress leader Arunabha Ghosh said that “they are worried about the fate of Bengalis in Assam.”

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 9:09:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/campaign-against-nrc-takes-effect-in-kolkata/article24247666.ece

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