Bhiwandi Jan Sangharsh Samiti and the Bhiwandi committee of Lok Raj Sangathan organized a discussion on NRC, NPR and CAA in Bhiwandi at Sanobar Hall on 7th March. The Bhiwandi Jan Sangharsh Samiti is a federation of organisations comprising of Lok Raj Sangathan, Gulshan e Taiba, Aam Admi Party, Halaat Ekta Forum, Movement for Peace and Justice, Lal Bauta Power loom Workers, Sahara Samajik Sangathana, Savitribai Phule Bidi Kamgar Union, Lok Hind Party, Jamait e Ulema and Jamait e Islami.
The discussion focused on the experience of the people of Assam with the NRC. Mr. Suhel Banerjee, a film maker and social activist of Committee of Peace and Justice was the main speaker, who addressed the issue, based on his extensive travel in the state and his interaction with people who were affected by NRC.
Since implementation of the NRC process, the people of Assam faced tremendous difficulties in proving that they were citizens of Assam. They had to get land deeds; they had to show linkages between the family members. People had gone to Assam much before 1971 to work in the tea gardens in Assam, from different areas of Bihar and Bengal, especially from Chhotanagpur District, and they have been staying there since then. Despite the many years they had stayed and worked in the state, they were not able to prove their citizenship. The documents demanded to prove their citizenship were very arbitrary. As a result nearly 19 lakh people were classified as non-citizens when the citizenship data was declared in June, 2019. The whole process of running from one government agency to another to get the papers put thousands of people in great difficulty.
He said that those who were suspected as doubtful citizens, and later declared as illegal immigrants were put in detention camps. He described the conditions in the detention camp and depicted the same through a film. The people who were in detention camps described the inhuman conditions there, such as four toilets for a hundred people. Many families lost their lives’ savings and ran up huge debts in the scramble to prove their citizenship. There were a large number of suicides as well.
He said that the poor were the worst affected and the same would be the case in other parts of the country when it will be implemented all over India. Poor people as well as Adivasis and women will face the greatest difficulties in getting papers. It would be a terrible harassment and a huge human suffering.
Out of the 19 lakhs who were not declared as citizens in Assam about 7 lakhs were Hindus and 6 lakhs Muslims, 1 lakh Nepalese. So everyone will be affected and not just Muslims.
He said the best thing would be if we can stop NRC, NPR outright so that people do not have to suffer. The state governments have to be forced to refuse to conduct NPR in their respective states.
The meeting condemned the passing of CAA, a law which defines citizenship on the basis of religion. The meeting pledged to continue the work in opposing NRC, NPR and CAA, and in giving support to Shaheen Bagh. Bhiwandi Jan Sangharsh Samiti announced that it would conduct a campaign called Ek Mutthi Chawal, Shaheen Bagh ke naam.