Other States

Nagaland may follow Assam in NRC update

People check the draft for National Register of Citizens in Guwahati. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Nagaland may be the next State in the Northeast to update the 1951 National Register of Citizens after studying how the first-of-its-kind exercise in Assam pans out.

Assam undertook the exercise in September 2015 and published the first draft with names of 19 million people, on December 31 last year. The second draft for the remaining 13.9 million people is scheduled to be published on July 30.

“We are contemplating an exercise to undertake NRC. We will initiate after seeing its success in Assam. Illegal migrants are becoming a major issue for the State,” Nagaland Chief Secretary Temjen Toy told The Hindu on Thursday.

Officials said the NRC exercise, though challenging, would be easier to handle with Assam having laid the foundation for digital updating of records.

Mr. Toy said the Nagaland Police would be deploying forces to areas bordering Assam to “check and prevent” influx of undocumented migrants from Assam. The hill states around Assam fear thousands of people likely to be made stateless after July 30 would sneak into their territories.

This fear gained currency after the Supreme Court was told on July 2 that about 1.5 lakh people who were included in the first draft might not qualify for citizenship to stay in Assam.

As per the 2011 Census, Nagaland has a population of 1.98 million. The State has 1.18 million voters, according to the Election Commission.

Anti-immigrant drive

Nagaland has occasionally driven out suspected ‘Bangladeshis’ out to Assam, which other Northeastern states blame for spill-over of illegal migrants. NGOs and students’ bodies in the State have often carried out drives against IBIs, short for illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, an euphemism for Bengali-speaking Muslims.

The influential Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) has announced ‘spot verification’ of documents of non-indigenous people from July 31 and asked its border units to be vigilant against influx of undocumented people from Assam. This follows a move by the Nagaland government, in which the Bharatiya Janata Party is a partner, to ask village councils to keep a watch on unknown people in their areas.

“The NRC in Assam will pose the biggest demographic threat to neighbouring states, Nagaland in particular. The Nagaland government must put in a strict mechanism to monitor the entry and exit of immigrants,” NSF president Kesosal Christopher Ltu said.

The Khasi Students’ Union has aired similar concern in Meghalaya. Its general secretary Donald V. Thabah asked the State’s coalition government to come out strong anti-influx measures, specifically at entry points on the Assam border.

“Assam after 1971 witnessed an increase in the number of illegal immigrants leading to indigenous communities such as Assamese, Bodo and Rabha becoming outnumbers in their own land. We don’t want this happening to us,” Mr. Thabah said.

The BJP-led governments in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur too are taking steps to prevent a possible influx of ‘stateless people’ from Assam. Manipur has deployed special teams of security forces at Jiribam adjoining southern Assam’s Barak Valley and Mao on the border with Nagaland.

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu has instructed the State’s police officers to strengthen the outposts along the border with Assam.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2021 10:32:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/nagaland-may-follow-assam-in-nrc-update/article24518531.ece

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