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Shaadaab S. Bakht: It’s a humanitarian issue
August 10, 2018
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I can’t claim to know the Indian minister, who justified the creation of the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, because I just met him twice in the India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi. But I know of him and that’s why I am now feeling miserable. No, not him, I told myself. But I was wrong.

In the IIC, my friend and I shook him by the hand. My friend knows him and, therefore, decided to have a longish word with him. I stood away as they talked. That day we shook him by the hand and last week he shook me with his words. Then he wasn’t a minister, now he is. That day he appeared suave, now he sounds painful. But what I mustn’t forget is that day he was helpless, today he isn’t. He feels emboldened by the numbers his party enjoys by way of members in Parliament and in the assemblies.

Therefore, he is making full use of that electoral strength. Well, I am tempted to say that the above numbers can be brought home with loaded pledges, which are almost always made in convincing style, speciously showcased in rhetoric, but realised at decadal leisure.       

He defended the highly questionable citizens’ list to detect illegal immigrants from mainly Muslim Bangladesh, saying the growth in the Hindu population of the border state had been overtaken by that of Muslims.
The draft NRC, released last week, excluded 4 million people from the northeastern state of Assam, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power for the first time in 2016 promising action against illegal immigrants.
“In the 50 years between 1961 and 2011, the majority community in Assam has grown 2.4 times; the minority has grown 3.9 times,” the minister said in a blog post.

‘Well, I am tempted to say that the above numbers can be brought home with loaded pledges, which are almost always made in convincing style, speciously showcased in rhetoric, but realised at decadal leisure.’       
“This has caused a major demographic impact.” I used to think and still do that he is a man married to humane values and tolerance, but this insensitive observation unfortunately brings me back to my original position. And that is politicians are like undertakers, even death can’t make them cry.

Four million people have been rendered stateless and he feels that’s okay because they don’t share the faith that the BJP has made its driving ethos. Let’s get one thing clear at the outset and that’s there is nothing wrong in adopting a faith as a group’s heartbeat. But everything becomes wrong when that adoption is done at the cost of another faith. One can’t build one’s house by destroying someone else’s. They who do it are known as marauders.

It is a pity, if not harmful, when our well-known and rich educational backgrounds fail to make us see beyond our political domains. One does appreciate the fact that every human being likes to protect his flock, but that shouldn’t certainly mean the castration of reason. Because when reason wilts, justice crumbles.

The millions delisted are not particularly people of means. Among them are tens of thousands of underfed children, ill mothers and penniless fathers. They are where they are because of political games, which their types never play.

Therefore, the issue is not about the “demographic impact.” It is a humanitarian issue. Can we let millions of helpless people suffer when their wellbeing is the very aim of those who govern them? We can’t. One hopes the minister and his team will see it as a crisis to be resolved and not an issue to win votes.
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