Hyderabad: Speaking in the city on Tuesday on the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Assam, human rights activist Teesta Setalvad expressed her apprehensions about the possibility of such an exercise being undertaken across the country.
She spoke to the gathering of about 200 people, predominantly Muslims, about difficulties faced by people who failed to make it to list of citizens during NRC exercise in Assam. Both Hindus and Muslims have been trapped in detention centres for several years, she alleged, adding that families spend Rs 20,000 on an average on documentation and related expenses.
Ms Setalvad outlined her talk with details of the Nellie massacre in Assam in 1983, saying, “On February 18, 1983, independent India’s first genocide took place. Nearly 3,000 Muslims were massacred on the tragic day. It was caused by the same discourse we see today — ‘who is an Indian and who is an infiltrator’,” she said.
Some in the audiences said they had come out of curious about the subject, some wanted to clarify their doubts about NRC and a few wanted to make sure they would be safe if such an exercise was undertaken in Telangana state.
Ms Setalvad said it was very difficult for people to appeal against exclusion from final NRC in Assam published on August 31, 2019. Over 19.6 lakh people have been excluded from this list, of which 5.6 lakh are minorities.
Towards the end of her talk, she noted that Union ministers and political leaders are indicating that the NRC exercise would be undertaken across the country.
“It is up to both the general public and political class to oppose such a move. But it would also be prudent to get ready for it,” she said. She wondered what the modalities of exclusion would be across various states in the country.
After the talk, some in the audience thanked her for “fighting for Muslim community.”
A member of the audience said he was unhappy with mainstream media for not taking NRC seriously. “We are upset with how little the problems of Muslim community are being portrayed in media. It is media’s job to question and help people,” he said.
The audience’s attitude on the subject ranged from curiosity to downright disgust at the idea of having to prove their citizenship....