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Similar yardstick for Indians & Bangladeshis?

india Updated: Aug 02, 2010 02:23 IST
Rahul Karmakar
Rahul Karmakar
Hindustan Times
yardstick

In some parts of the Northeast, Indians appear to be more alien than illegal migrants, a euphemism for Bangladeshis.

A Manipur-based militant outfit has refreshed its quit notice on non-Manipuris while asking "acceptable" settlers before 15 October 1949 to register at its newly opened bureaus.

The Revolutionary Peoples Front (RPF) had given an ultimatum to non-Manipuris to leave Manipur by May 31.

The bureaus of outfit offer an equivalent of the post-independence National Register of Citizens (NRC) that New Delhi came up with in 1951.

The RPF and other outfits don't recognise the merger of the erstwhile princely state of Manipur (along with Tripura) with the Indian Union on 15 October 1949.

"Non-Manipuris who settled in Manipur after October 1949 rode the Indian government's agenda of colonising these parts," said an RPF spokesman. "It is our duty to eliminate them."

Manipur militants have killed at least 30 non-Manipurs - mostly Hindi-speaking traders and labourers - in the past 12 months. The RPF has advised post-1949 settlers to heed its quit notice or face death; it has also asked pre-1949 non-Manipurs to get registered fast to remove any confusion about their 'citizenship'.

The RPF's notice to "illegal Indians" follows a gory complication over the exercise to update the NRC in Assam. New Delhi had earlier this year launched a pilot project in two revenue circles - Barpeta and Chhaygaon - to update the 1951 citizens' register on the basis of the 1966 voters' list.

Minority organisations protested this exercise, which they said victimised Bengali-speaking Muslims viewed as Bangladeshis. One such protest led by the All Assam Minority Students' Union (AAMSU) turned violent last month. Four protestors were killed in the consequent police firing.

"We want the NRC updated with 25 March 1971 as the base for citizenship, not the 1966 voters' list," said AAMSU president Abdur Rahim Ahmed.

The 1971 date is what the Assam Accord of 1985 - it brought the curtains down on an anti-foreigners' agitation - prescribes for detection and deportation of illegal migrants, primarily Bangladeshis.

The Barpeta incident prompted the Congress-led coalition government in Assam to stop the NRC update exercise 'temporarily'. Opposition parties lost no time in terming it a minority-appeasing move.

"The pause in (NRC) pilot project came as no surprise," said BJP spokesman Kulendra Daulagopu. "The demographic invasion from erstwhile East Pakistan and present-day Bangladesh suits this vote-bank obsessed government."

Muslims account for 32 per cent of Assam's population, and they have outnumbered the indigenous peoples in six districts while being on a par in another five. The bulk of them are alleged migrants from Bangladesh.