After the final list of National Register for Citizen (NRC) in Assam was released on Saturday, the first protest against it took place in Kolkata before Assam House, where members of a joint forum demonstrated and demanded that there should be no NRC process in Bengal and rest of India.
The protest meeting organised by Joint Forum Against NRC (JFANRC), saw a large number of representatives from different social platforms presenting their views and reasons for not being in favour of NRC. Speaking to eNewsroom, Prasenjit Bose, Kolkata-based economist and social activist said, “We are appealing to all political parties in Bengal to initiate talks of having a legislation to stall NRC implantation in Bengal as we have seen the inhuman side of this process in Assam. Around 19 lakh individuals who have not made it to the NRC list are on the verge of becoming stateless. It is a violation of human rights.”
Bose then added, “We do not want NRC for West Bengal. Bengal has a history of having large number of refugees, it still it has refugees, so how they will prove their citizenship? We are here also to put forward a demand before the CM of Assam to give citizenship to these 19 lakh individuals who have been excluded from the final NRC list.”
While Imtiaz Ahmed Mollah, one of the speakers, said, "Deportation of even a tiny fraction of the NRC-excluded persons is an impossibility. The only just and human solution to the problem is to initiate the process of granting Indian citizenship to those who have been excluded irrespective of their religion, language, caste or ethnic background. Any discriminatory treatment vis-a-vis the NRC-excluded individuals on the grounds of religion, place of birth etc would be a violation of constitutional provisions.”
Raising their voice and concern over the NRC exclusions and their fate in detention centres, Gitali Thakur, an Assamese woman married in Kolkata said, “The life in detention centres is worse than what we can even think of. They are devoid of basic amenities. The basic idea for NRC was to eliminate the non-Indians from Assam, but the way it has been implemented has exposed a sinister agenda of basically targeting the minorities, something which we don’t endorse.”
Students present outside Assam House too expressed their concern. Jaysree, a college student, who preferred being addressed by her first name said, “Whatever that is happening in Assam will happen at a much larger scale here, if NRC gets implemented in Bengal, given the size of our state. The sifting of individuals based on the documents of their forefathers is cruel, as back then in the 1950s, not many were educated.”
She added, “The way documentary evidences have not been taken into account as in cases certain renowned individuals, scares me a lot. We have the documents of my grandmother, who had shifted to Bengal way ahead of 1971, but I am sceptical about how the officials would respond to the documentary evidences that we have.”
Adding to that, her contemporary Debarghya said, “The basis of Indian independence is being violated by NRC, which I believe is a very anti-national thing.”
The slogans raised in Bengali mainly highlighted the fact that the protesters do not believe in NRC and that they will not let it get implemented in Bengal.