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Census data say hardly any post-1971 foreigners in Assam: Rights group

A worker checks documents at the National Register of Citizens office in Guwahati on August 28, 2019.   | Photo Credit: AFP

A Delhi-based rights group, citing Census reports, says there has been no noticeable influx of foreigners into Assam after 1971, the base year for filtering out non-citizens from the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is to be published on August 31.

A report titled ‘Foreigners in Assam: A blast from the past’ released by the Rights and Risks Analysis Group on Thursday says the State witnessed a mammoth influx of immigrants from 1901 to 1971. But the influx reduced drastically thereafter.

“As per the Census of India, Assam’s average decadal population growth rate was 23.95% from 1901 to 1971 against the all-India average of 12.90%. During these 70 years, the average decadal growth rate of population in Assam was almost double that of India and it changed the demographic character of Assam. But the All Assam Students Union (AASU) had accepted the immigrants of this period as citizens of India under the Assam Accord,” the report says.

“The Census of India's ‘Decadal Variation in Population Since 1901 to 2011’ also states that Assam’s decadal population growth has been consistently lower (20.90%) than the national average of 21.94% from 1971 to 2011,” the report says.

“In fact, from 1971 to 2011, Assam had the lowest average decadal population growth rate in the north-eastern region with Nagaland having the highest average decadal population growth rate of 42.52%, followed by Mizoram with 35.14%, Arunachal Pradesh with 31.25%, Meghalaya with 30.88%, Manipur with 27.78%, and Tripura with 24.27%,” the report notes.

“If abnormal population growth rate as reflected in census reports is the determinant for the influx of foreigners, Assam did not witness any noticeable influx of foreigners in the post-1971 period. At least, major influx of foreigners into Assam in the post-1971 period is not supported by statistics of the Census of India,” says the rights group’s director, Suhas Chakma.

On the exclusion of people from the draft NRC, the report says: “As per the decadal variation of population and Census estimation of population in Assam for 2018, the total absolute number of increase of population in Assam from 1971 to 2018 was 2,03,93,248 persons. If 41,73,169 persons excluded from the draft NRC are all foreigners, Assam’s population of the citizens in 2018 would have increased by 1,62,20,079 persons only from 1971 to 2018. In that case, the average decadal population grown rate of Assam would further fall to 17.1% against the average all-India’s decadal population growth rate of 22.4% during the same period.”

There is no plausible basis to consider that average decadal population growth rate in Assam will be 5.3% less than that of the all-India growth rate from 1971 to 2018, Mr. Chakma says.

“Assam’s lower average decadal population growth rate than the national average and the other north-eastern States during the period unequivocally suggests that the majority of those excluded from the NRC are actually Indian citizens but suffering the brunt of the anti-foreigner sentiments in the State as a consequence of mammoth influx of migrants from 1901 to 1971 and due to the absence of documents, which must be dated before March 24, 1971,” he adds.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 11:52:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/census-data-say-hardly-any-post-1971-foreigners-in-assam-rights-group/article29286848.ece

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