- Recently five Bengali men were gunned down in Upper Assam as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is being updated to detect the illegal immigrants which evidences act of the periodic eruptions against non-Assamese people in the State.
- The killings both symptomise and deepen the fault lines between the Assamese and Bengali communities because of the ongoing exercise to update the National Register of Citizens as well as the Centre’s plan to secure parliamentary passage for the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
- Moreover the people in southern Assam’s Barak Valley are now advocating for separate statehood for the valley.
- ULFA also claimed responsibility for a low-intensity bomb blast in Guwahati recently, saying it was a warning to those who support the Citizenship Bill.
- About Barak Valley: Barak Valley is comprised of three districts namely Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj and is majorly Bengali-dominated.
- Recently, the Assam Sahitya Sabha has said that a person must not get a state government job in Assam unless he or she knows Assamese.
- This has raised fears in Barak valley where Bengali has been the official language since 1961.
- Further the National Register of Citizens and Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has created “sharp division” between linguistic groups in Assam.
- Way forward:
- The Supreme Court Bench that is monitoring the NRC exercise signalled an accommodative stance by agreeing to allow the use of five more documents by those left out of the NRC final draft.
- This spirit of accommodation, towards long-time residents, of whatever religion or ethnicity, needs to permeate the political leadership and civil society in Assam now.
- About NRC:
- The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is the list of Indian citizens of Assam. It was prepared in 1951, following the census of 1951.
- NRC updation was taken up in Assam as per a Supreme Court order in 2013 to wean out cases of illegal migration from Bangladesh and other adjoining areas.
- NRC updation has been carried out under The Citizenship Act, 1955, and according to rules framed in the Assam Accord.
- About Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016:
- The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.