Northeastern neighbours wary of migrant spillover as Assam updates NRC
The partial publication of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has made neighbouring Northeastern states wary of those likely to be identified as non-Indians sneaking into their territories.
The NRC is being updated for the first time since 1951, and those under the scanner are Bangladeshi nationals who entered the state after March 25, 1971. Illegal migrants will be identified and deported in accordance with the Assam Accord of 1985.
The first draft published at the stroke of midnight on December 31 established 19 million people out of 32.9 million as legal residents. Officials have promised that those left out will be included in the next list – expected by July – after their documents are verified.
Hanging in balance is the fate of 1.14 million people, whose documents and parental linkages have been found to be suspicious. These include 2,900,000 married women who submitted certificates from gram panchayat secretaries. Assam’s neighbours fear that even if a fraction of those with problematic papers are declared as non-citizens, they might sneak into their territories to eke out a living.
“The superintendents of police of all border districts have been alerted and told to liaise with their Assam counterparts in connection with the NRC,” said Arunachal Pradesh director general of police Sandeep Goel. Chief minister Pema Khandu had met him on January 4 to seek an update on the vigil being maintained along the Assam border to prevent a possible spillover of illegal migrants.
In Meghalaya, the Khasi Students’ Union and youth wings of regional political parties – such as the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement – sought the state government’s intervention to ensure the “safety of the indigenous population” after the final NRC is published in Assam. They also wanted additional forces to be stationed at vulnerable points along the Assam-Meghalaya border.
Nagaland has also stepped up measures to prevent an “invasion” of Bangladeshi migrants. The TR Zeliang government wants inner-line permits (ILP) – a documentary requirement for outsiders – to be made mandatory in Dimapur, as has already been done everywhere else in the state. “The ILP is deemed a necessity in Dimapur because it has been alleged that illegal migrants sneak into Nagaland through the city,” state home minister Kuzholuzo Nienu said last week. Many organisations, including the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) and Survival Nagaland, have also sought stricter implantation of the ILP.
The NSF had launched a campaign to flush out “illegal Bangladeshi” immigrants in February 2015.