Students body demands NRC for entire Northeast

Students body demands NRC for entire Northeast

The demand for an Assam-like update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to detect “illegal migrants” from Bangladesh in the entire Northeast gained steam with a forum of eight influential student bodies moving the union home ministry pitching for the same.

A delegation of North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), a forum of student bodies from Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh met union home minister Rajnath Singh and his junior Kiren Rijiju in New Delhi on Wednesday evening demanding that NRC be implemented for the rest of the Northeast.

They claimed that “illegal Bangladeshi migrants” are spilling over to rest of the states.

“We have clearly told the home minister that the Northeast can’t be the dumping ground for illegal migrants from Bangladesh and hence the NRC must be updated in other states as well to detect the foreigners, delete their names from voters lists and deport them by signing a repatriation treaty with neighbouring Bangladesh. We have also demanded a special constitutional status for people of the Northeast in order to protect the rights of the indigenous people over land and resources and check the identity crisis we are having due to the illegal migrants problem,” NESO advisor and leader of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), Sammujjal Kumar Bhattacharjya on Thursday said.

The NRC is being updated only in Assam with March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date as agreed in the 1985 Assam Accord signed by the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and leaders of the six-year-long anti-foreigners movement led by AASU. This means those proving with documents that they or their forefathers lived in Assam before March 24, 1971, would be included in the NRC and those failing to do so would be declared illegal migrants for deportation subsequently.

A draft of the NRC containing 3.29 crore applicants, published on July 30 this year left out 40.07 lakh applicants, who have now been given another chance to submit acceptable documents for inclusion of their names in the final NRC. The Supreme Court is monitoring the NRC update process.

The publication of the draft led student bodies in Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland take-up drives against suspected illegal migrants, whom they claimed had entered from Assam. The home ministry, however, asked all the state governments to ensure that no one was harassed till final NRC was published.

The student bodies also opposed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 and the new rules brought in by the NDA government in 2015 to protect the suspected “illegal migrants” belonging to non-Muslims, who were “victims of persecution” in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

“As agreed in the Assam Accord, all foreigners who settled in Assam after March 24, 1971, must be deported irrespective of religion, caste or any other consideration,” Bhattacharjya said.   

The NESO delegation also demanded that the Northeast be declared a special education and employment zone for local youths.

“Students from the Northeast are moving out for better education which results in the outflow of nearly Rs. 300 crore every year. Why can’t our colleges and universities have those courses and more technical and non-technical institutions set up here? Similarly, a special policy must be adopted for employment of indigenous youths in both state and central government organizations,” he said.

They also asked the home minister to take up issues with China such as downstream impacts of activities in the upper reaches of the Yarlung Tsangpo river, which is known as Siang in Arunachal Pradesh and the Brahmaputra in Assam and the long denial of visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh by China.