It is true that ‘national interest’ is paramount. Yet as eminent political scientist Rajni Kothari put it: an aggressive approach to the establishment of one central authority and the suppression of all plural identities provides a ready recipe for disintegration rather than integration. The challenge lies in keeping the country intact and of creating, out of its disparate parts and varied elements, a nation with a broad vision and consensus.
If the CAB is to be tweaked to allow the ILP to prevail over it, it effectively means that all the non-natives without any eligible document to prove Indian citizenship in the ILP states will be settled in the neighbouring States of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, and Tripura.
The futility of the ILP stands exposed from the fact that the ILP States had more population growth rate than the non ILP states except Tripura.
An organisational reshuffle in the ranks of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Northeast India is in the works, according to informed sources in the party. The BJP’s internal organisational election process is on, and new state presidents are expected to be elected by December. The party in Northeast India is in the throes of a quiet turmoil due to internal power struggles in most states barring Arunachal Pradesh.
Dr. S.C Jamir, a veteran politician, famously known as the architect of modern Nagaland, served five times as Chief Minister of Nagaland, was a Member of Parliament during which he served as Union Deputy Minister of Railways, Labour & Rehabilitation, and later as the Union Deputy Minister of Community Development & Cooperation, Food and Agriculture. In later years of his political career, Jamir served as Governor of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Odisha. During the tenure of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Jamir was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and represented India as a member of UN delegations.
East Wind publisher Nona Arhe sat down with him in his home in Dimapur, Nagaland to hear his views on his state, Nagaland, his political party, the Indian National Congress, and the country’s Act East policy, which has special relevance to Northeast India.
On January 8, the Finance department had already put in place a new procedure for release of funds amounting to more than Rs 2 crore. According to the new procedure, all such proposals for release of funds would have to be cleared by the Chief Minister, along with the status of financial resources available. This was done, and files were subsequently sent to the CM for his approval. The Chief Minister himself signed off on release of funds worth more than Rs 2 crore, and the file notes bear his signature.
The investigation ordered by the CM into the sanctions’ procedure is therefore an eyewash.
Why are they going back on the issue of Inner Line Permit which the British had started? By now we should have been able to get rid of that but instead more states are demanding for it. For example, Meghalaya is now asking for ILP and so also Manipur. Though the situations may be very different in every state, the general psychology is that they want some sort of protection, whether justified or just born of apprehension. Consider the Assam Accord wherein the feeling of identity is strongly indicated. Such issues have to be tackled very sensitively and those at the Centre in Delhi might not be able to understand the psychology of the people of northeast and why such feelings exist.
There seems to be a huge gap between the hype created over the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project and the ground reality. The multi-crore project is also being depicted as a crucial component of the Act East Policy and a scheme that will provide an outlet for the landlocked Northeast to the Bay of Bengal through Myanmar.
It is also important to note that the fundamental legal bases of the two Registers, viz the NRC of 1951 and the NRC of 2018 are distinct and separate. While the NRC, 1951 was completed under the Census Act of 1948 which makes the register a contemporaneous document prepared by field staff engaged in course of census operation and was legally “not open to inspection nor admissible in evidence” (ALR 1970 (A&N) 206 para 15), admittedly the current NRC is being prepared under the Citizenship Act 1955 read with the Citizenship Rules, 2003. To the best of our knowledge, the Courts and the various orders and judgement have not as yet constructed any legal framework to reconcile the two Acts which have distinct origin and purposes. Neither has any legal framework been evolved to legitimize the use of the NRC,1951 as evidence in matters governed by the Citizenship Act by any amendment or an enabling clause.
The matter is more complicated now as we know that the district offices have not maintained the NRC-1951 data for all the districts as was mandated in the Census of 1951 and the matter is today admitted by the government of Assam as well. While the government was forced to rely on other documents produced by the people, from those districts where the NRC 1951 was absent or fragmentary, to enlist their names in the NRC, 2018, it therefore raises serious questions on the legality or legitimacy of ‘updating’ NRC,1951 in the province of Assam as a whole.
There is a tribal versus non tribal divide, but there are divides between and within tribes as well. There are many linguistic divides, several religious divides, class divides, and political divides. So, for instance, the Chakmas are a tribal group, as are the Tea Tribes, but their status in Northeast India is very different from other tribal groups. Similarly, the Meiteis of Manipur are a nontribal group, but their situation too is quite unique. The Bengalis are united by language and divided by religion. The Assamese and Bengali are, in many cases, united by religion and divided by language. The Nagas are divided by tribe but united by a sense of Naga identity. And so on.
The most loathsome thing is – this is happening here in Assam, just before our eyes and we are witness to its spread.
For the last five decades, the most dominant narrative in Assam has been the identity politics.
There is a genuine existential fear among the community of Assamese people because of the longstanding influx problem.
What has happened is only politics is being played on this and nothing worthwhile has been done to safeguard the existential fear of the community.