Amit Shah, India’s Home Affairs Minister vows to eject illegal migrants from West Bengal – BBC News. This has caused a major concern and fear within the state. More recently a government scheme was enforced in Assam the north-eastern state of India where the government introduced the National Register of Citizens (NRC). This list effectively stripped 1.9 million people in the state of their citizenship, although they have been given 120 days to appeal. The process is controversial. Citizens need to prove they were residents of India before 24 March, 1971, a day before Bangladesh declared its independence from Pakistan. Families need to provide proof of residency and those who cannot prove their citizenship are deemed illegal. Many people are unable to produce these documents due to illiteracy and poor record keeping. Many families have been torn apart and there are claims of suicide resulting from this and people suspected of being foreigners have been placed in detention centres.
The Citizenship (Amendment) bill in West Bengal is yet to be passed by parliament and the government has said the process was needed to identify illegal Bangladeshi migrants. However critics feel it is a ploy for the NRC to strip Muslims of their Indian citizenship. If the Bill is passed then this effectively guarantees Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Mr Shah underlined this during Tuesday’s speech saying, “I today want to assure Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist and Christian refugees, that you will not be forced to leave India. Don’t believe rumours. Before NRC, we will bring Citizenship Amendment Bill, which will ensure these people get Indian citizenship.” This excludes Muslims, who the BJP do not count as a minority group.
“Ever since the construction of a massive new detention camp began in Assam for illegal citizens – most being Muslims as per the final NRC list – life hasn’t been normal,” Mohammad Nasirullah told the BBC. “We better have all [our] documents ready. After all, it’s assumed that many of us are illegal citizens.” The Hindu nationalist Mr Modi leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been campaigning against illegal immigration in India but has recently made the NRC a priority.
Following the NRC the Government was keen to welcome Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis with no ties to the country, however Assam’s Muslims are fighting for their right to stay. “What was a process to segregate foreigners has so clearly become an anti-Muslim exercise,” says Aman Wadud, a human rights lawyer based in Assam.
What has happened in Assam must not happen in West Bengal or anywhere else in India. This blatant disregard for Human rights is disgraceful.
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