The ruckus that has erupted in India over the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for the state of Assam is a fine example of how political capital can obscure a large-scale humanitarian issue that needs to be handled with sensitivity. Assam has long grappled with the issue of immigrants and their status and the tabling of the NRC, hopefully, will usher in a new era of sociocultural peace. But at the moment, the process is far from done and finished. People whose names are not included in the final draft will get the opportunity between August 30 and September 28 to file claims and objections with the authorities. It is therefore entirely unnecessary to whip up communal passions in the name of the four million people whose names have not made it to the register, as some members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party are guilty of.
The need of the hour is to heed the advice of the Supreme Court that has advocated a fair procedure for the evaluation and claims of the unlisted and extend each one of them a reasonable opportunity to prove their right to be a part of the state’s people. This should be the guiding light to move forward on this matter and exercise caution and fair play. This is all the more critical given how each passing decade has, unfortunately, only managed to put more distance between the problem and the solution on the issue of migrants’ status in Assam.
Above all, the NRC process is court mandated, driven by legal and just imperatives, and it is precisely why it needs to be spared the rabble-rousing and point-scoring.