03, Dec 2019 | Gayatri Korgaonkar
On November 30, CJP’s Teesta Setalvad spoke at a meeting on the NPR-NRC issue. The meeting was organised by Pehel Foundation at Banegar English High School in Mumbai’s Mira Road. This is the latest in a series of meetings and trainings conducted by CJP in Mumbai since October 2019.
Around 200 people attended the organised event, which was titled “NRC, NPR, and CAB: Discussion and Solutions.” The audience consisted of eminent lawyers, doctors and other citizens of the Mira-Bhayander area.
Now that the final NRC has been published, and 19,06,657 people have been excluded from the final list, CJP’s campaign has become even more focused. Our objective now, is to help these excluded people defend their citizenship before Foreigners’ Tribunals. For this we have already started conducting a series of workshops to train paralegals to assist people at FTs. We will also be publishing a multi-media training manual containing simplified aspects of legal procedure, evidentiary rules, and judicial precedents that will ensure the appeals filed against the NRC exclusions in the FTs are comprehensive and sound, both in fact and in law. This will assist our paralegals, lawyers and the wider community in Assam to negotiate this tortuous process. For this we need your continued support. Please donate now to help us help Assam.
Teesta Setalvad was the main speaker of the event. Detailing CJP’s Assam experience, she emphasised that the NRC was unique to Assam and useful in curbing the successive waves of violence that had rocked Assam since the last seventy years. Cautioning citizens against falling into a communally motivated Hindu v/s Muslim trap, she said, “19 lakh people were excluded from the NRC in Assam irrespective of their religion … if the NRC is implemented, the fallout will indiscriminately affect all communities.”
Teesta noted that if NPR is implemented as a national exercise, the poor, the Muslims, migrant labourers, and linguistic minorities will be disproportionately targeted.
In her speech, she questioned the potential modalities that can be undertaken to be protocol. “According to UNICEF, only 58 per cent of people in India have birth registration certificates. We need to ask the government what other proofs they could be looking at.” Finally, Teesta implored the audience to answer her call for a grassroots civil movement against the NRC, which received much support.
Many members of the audience voiced their frustrations as to the need of them proving their own citizenship. There was a lot of pent of anger and anxiety that was against the incumbent government’s citizenship policy.
It was clear that a large number of people were ready to question the government on the NRC and the NPR. In its attempt to begin a grassroots movement in defence of citizenship, CJP made an appeal for Mohalla Volunteers – people who will take CJP’s message to their communities and help them face this unprecedented challenge. Our appeal got an overwhelming response from the residents of Mira Road. We have already planned a couple of follow-up meetings and a roadmap for these volunteers.
With multiple NRC-NPR meetings lined up in various cities like Mumbra, Pune and Malegaon, the CJP is determined to create a network of such committees of volunteers throughout India.