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    NRC Should Not Become A Means To Render Muslims Stateless, Says US Commission

    Muslims will face a higher burden for verification, says Anurima Bhargava

    While all eyes are on the most awaited publication of the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recently said that the Indian government has undermined the religious freedom for vulnerable religious minorities in Assam. The US federal government commission reviews the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom across the globe.

    In a statement the USCIRF commissioner Anurima Bhargava was quoted as saying, “The NRC verification process must not become a means to target and render stateless the Muslim community in the Northeastern India.”

    “We remain troubled by any government policies or actions that have the effect, whether intentional or not, of undermining religious freedom for vulnerable religious minorities. Proposed policies that suggest that Muslims will face a higher burden for verification, along with worrisome rhetoric, create a negative and potentially dangerous climate for the Muslim community in northeastern India,” the USCIRF commissioner added.

    Meanwhile, the USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins, while questioning religious freedom in India, said, “We remain concerned with the potential abuse of the NRC in Assam and the resulting introduction of a religious requirement for citizenship, which are contrary to the ideals of religious freedom in India.”

    In June 2018, a joint letter by four United Nations special rapporteurs, among them the special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, argued that the updated NRC could be used to disenfranchise Muslims in the region.

    The NRC

    The final NRC is slated to be published on August 31st, 2019. On the midnight of December 31st, 2017, a partial draft of the NRC was released and subsequently on July 30th, 2018, the complete draft NRC was released. A total of 2,89,83,677 persons were found eligible out of 3,29,91,384 applicants in the final draft of the NRC. The NRC authorities on June 26th, 2019 published an additional draft exclusion list consisting of 1,02,462 persons. The Supreme Court (SC) has supervised the whole NRC updation process.

    Security arrangement

    The Assam Police have beefed up security across the state ahead of the publication of the final NRC, the Assam Director General of Police (DGP) Kuladhar Saikia said. “All adequate measures have been taken to prevent any possible untoward situation that may occur in the state. Sufficient security forces troops have reached the state. The central government has assured to provide more troops in case any necessary,” the DGP said on August 23rd, 2019.  He also said that the social media is under scanner to prevent any possible attempt to create unrest by posting communal remarks related to NRC.

    CM Sonowal appeals people to maintain peace

    The Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal appealed the people of the state to co-operate the process peacefully and not to violate law and order. The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) advisor Akhil Gogoi also appealed the people to avoid posting any communal remarks on social media.

    Photo: via @NRCupdateAssam & USCIRF offcial website

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