The Modi government’s initiation of the process of cleansing India of foreign malcontents is welcome, but Bangladesh will cooperate only till Sheikh Hasina remains the chief executive of that country
It is heartening to note that the Narendra Modi government has finally begun addressing the concerns of a core constituency of the Bharatiya Janata Party — the nationalists — by way of releasing the first draft of the National Register of Citizens. This is also a step towards the realisation of a campaign promise made by Chief Minister of Assam Sarbananda Sonowal. The factoid that this project is yet another one that was initiated by an Indian National Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government is not important, as the dispensation led virtually by Sonia Gandhi always looked jittery and tentative whenever the issue of Bangladeshi infiltrators was raised, passing off every illegal settler as an Indian Muslim with bona fides. Humanitarian concerns apart, no country can afford to let its demography get skewed in favour of people of a different culture — so much so that electoral campaigns followed by national and local policies get affected by the changed majority-minority ratio. And here, the reason for sneaking into this country is largely not economic; it is mischievous. These Bangladeshis turn the already backward Muslim ghettos a menace for law enforcement agencies, turning the slums into dens of antisocial activities. Worse, a section of these malcontents go on to commit heinous crimes like the rape of a nun in West Bengal, pelting stones on house owners in Noida, collaborating with Uttar Pradesh’s Muslims to engineer riots in Basirhat, and they are also infamous for their dalliance with terrorist outfits like Harkat ul Jihad al Islami. Therefore, Bangladeshis have as bogus a humanitarian ground to stay in India as do the infamous Rohingyas. Thankfully, the debate over the second group of people appears settled now in the national interest. It is unfortunate that, along with the INC, communists and fake secular parties, Indian Muslims by and large do not realise the harm the incursion causes not only to the repute of the religious community but also to their entitlements in state schemes like the public distribution system. It is, hence, suspected that ensuring a Muslim-majority India is their greater goal.
Some citizens and detractors of the NRC alike, including the INC and its allies in Parliament, have raised a plausible concern that several genuine inhabitants of Assam have been left out of the first draft. However, the authority has clarified that such discrepancies — for example, some members of a given family have been recognised as citizens while others have not been included — in the exercise will be redressed through the subsequent lists that will come with the scrutiny of the 1.39 crore applicants that are yet to be processed.
First prepared in 1951, the NRC should be extended to the whole country because the intruders do not always settle in the districts bordering Bangladesh, as evidenced in the record of crimes they have been found involved in. Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, etc being economically greener pastures — and arguably better hideouts due to the vastness of these cities — attract them from Assam and West Bengal soon. Since no metropolis of the country other than Kolkata is native to Bengalis, who can distinguish between the dialects of the language, the illegal immigrants can easily use the shield of persecution, claiming that they are being targeted despite being Indians. Till the Sheikh Hasina Wazed regime stays in Bangladesh, it is an opportune period for India to launch a crackdown on the stealthy invaders as their Bangladeshi prime minister is punishing the mujahideen and war criminals at home as well as sharing with India her intelligence reports on infiltration. It will nevertheless be difficult for her to accept escapees in thousands back into her impoverished country. Still, the Indian government must complete its job of identifying the outsiders — conversely, excluding those who couldn’t be established as Indians — and then mount pressure on the eastern neighbour to take its people back. Police and civic authorities across the country must rope in Hindu Bengalis, who do not deny the problem of Bangladeshi infiltration, for the exercise. India has tolerated and suffered the nuisance of foreign reprobates for far too long.