BENGALURU: “How does the government know someone is an illegal immigrant? It relies on documents which are 50-plus years old... Should we throw out people who don’t have documents? This is what NRC is doing,” former civil servant Kannan Gopinathan said at a discussion on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).
Gopinathan and former IAS officer Sasikanth Senthil, who resigned earlier this year in protest against the government’s policies, spoke in Bengaluru on Sunday. Senthil pointed out that NRC dehumanises the outcast group created by the government.
“This is similar to how Jews were marked with a yellow star in Nazi Germany. As Noam Chomsky said, it is the duty of intellectuals and anyone who looks at the backstory in the government’s narrative, to tell the story to others. If we don’t do it, we will not be doing our part to change public opinion,” he said.
Prior to the panel discussion, moderated by independent journalist Rohini Mohan, Gopinathan said, “Who does not have documents? It’s the landless, tribals, women, people who have lost them in a disaster, refugees, the trafficked, migrants and other marginalized sections of society. The government does not have the right to take away a person’s citizenship. The burden of proof to establish you are a citizen has been shifted to you... It’s the government’s job to find out who the illegal immigrants are,” he said.
Gopinathan pointed out that Rs 1,600 crore of public money was wasted with the government junking its own report of the NRC in Assam. He said the CAB was “anti-Muslim” as Muslim immigrants are considered infiltrators to be put into detention centres, while non-Muslim immigrants are considered refugees.
“Fascism is like a Rajkumar or Rajnikanth movie. There is a hero who has values assigned to him, a story of the poverty he emerges from, a powerful speaker with aura. A mythical past is created, and the reason why we lost our glory because of an outcast group. Everything is done through the guise of ‘nation’, so you cannot disagree with the government. If you do, you become anti-national,” Senthil said.