'Situation before Citizenship Act was less dangerous': Hindu migrants in Assam on protests

The fate of tens of thousands of mostly Bengali speaking Hindus hangs in 'dangerous imbalance' amid the ongoing violent protests in Assam over Citizenship Act.

Published: 15th December 2019 08:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th December 2019 11:47 AM   |  A+A-

All Assam Students' Union AASU activists burn an effigy of Guwahati Lok Sabha MP Queen Ojha during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Guwahati Tuesday Dec. 10 2019. (Photo | PTI)

An effigy burnt during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Guwahati. (File | PTI)

While concluding his final remarks in the Rajya Sabha last Wednesday, Home Minister Amit Shah had read out the testimonies of men and women of minority communities who migrated from Pakistan. “These people are happy with the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 that will make them Indian citizens,” he had said.

Such testimonies, however, will be difficult to come by in restive Assam. For, the Hindus in Assam who migrated from Bangladesh after March 24, 1971 and will now be beneficiaries of CAA, are scared to identify themselves.

“They are among the beneficiaries but the moment they apply for citizenship under the new legislation this year, they will be identified as ‘illegal Bangladeshis,” feel most.

The fate of tens of thousands of mostly Bengali speaking Hindus hangs in ‘dangerous imbalance.’

For them, “the situation before the CAA was less dangerous.” They feel they were better off as their lives were not in danger before.

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Rana Sarkar (name changed) and his two brothers were not included in NRC. The Sarkars were worried about their future but say they are ‘not frightened of anyone’ as they enjoy the support of friends, including some who came before March 1971. It’s the element of grudge from fellow Bengalis that unsettle them.

Most Hindus who migrated to India before March 24, 1971 and are genuine Indians by virtue of the Assam Accord 1985, are now angry that a new law has been enacted for a handful of fresh entrants for that endangers the safety of people who came before 1971. Hence, Several Bengali organisations have come out in protest against the CAA.

The movement against the Act is driven by the fact that it confers citizenship on people who have entered Assam till December 31, 2014, which they feel is violative of Clause V of the Assam Accord, which views the people migrating post-March 1971 as ‘illegal immigrants’ or plain ‘Bangladeshis’.

The Clause says, “People who migrated after March 24, 1971, are to be detected and deported.’ The NRC of 1951 was also updated on the basis of the above clause.


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