The war of words over the publication of the Draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, where over 40 lakhs names were left out due to some discrepancy, has turned ugly as the delegation of six Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders headed by Sukhendu Sekhar Roy who is the Rajya Sabha MP from West Bengal, was prevented to go out from Kumbhirgram Airport in Silchar in Assam, as they landed, on the grounds that Section 144 Cr. PC was in force in the entire Cachar district. Later the leaders were taken into custody prompting TMC’s Derek O’Brien to condemn the action of the BJP Ruled state. Arguing that a ‘super emergency’ is on, he added that his party leaders did not go there to break the law. They are lawmakers, not law-breakers.
The TMC Chief, Mamata Banerjee who is also the Chief Minister of West Bengal, as she landed in Kolkata from her Delhi visit was furious about the action of the BJP ruled state and is likely to rush to Silchar herself on August 3, 2018. It may be mentioned that a day after the publication of the draft NRC, Mamata had been very critical about the update process in Assam and accused the BJP-led governments in Delhi and Dispur of hatching a conspiracy to drive out Bengalis and Muslims from Assam. She also stated that the NRC will lead to a civil war in Assam and appealed to the government to stop it immediately.
Coming back to the delegation which includes six Members of Parliament and two MLAs, they were confined to a room at the airport on the ground that Section 144 Cr. PC was in force in the entire Cachar district. They are supposed to interact with some people in Silchar. However, when they landed, the district administration and police officials stopped them from getting out of the airport and later were confined to a room. The TMC delegation told the administration that they would go out in four groups of two persons each, which will not violate Section 144 Cr.PC, but the district administration officials refused.
Some of the members of the TMC team including some women received injuries as the standoff between the delegation and the police led to a scuffle inside the airport. A video of this went viral on social network exposing how the visiting leaders were manhandled.
According to O’Brien as the TMC delegation reached the airport, the Director General of police (DGP) and other police officials were waiting for them. The members of the delegation were not even allowed to leave the airport. He added that his party’s chief whip in the Rajya Sabha was roughed up, even though he is a heart patient and has a pacemaker. Also the women leaders were not spared.
The Assam Police have beefed up security arrangements in the Barak Valley districts, particularly in Silchar town, in the light of the TMC delegation’s visit on August 2, 2018.
The TMC delegation, including six MPs was kept in the VIP lounge of Kumbhigram airport in Cachar district under Barak Valley region, as there is no night holding facilities, all of them were latter shifted to the NIIT Guest House.
The TMC team went there at the instruction of Party Supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Banerjee has been accusing the BJP-led Central government of resorting to “vote-bank politics” on the NRC issue and saying that “Indian citizens have become refugees” in their own land.
Amidst the war like situation between TMC and BJP, Mamata had a set back as the Assam TMC Chief, Dwipen Pathak tendered his resignation in protest against Mamata’s statement which he said is misleading the nation on the citizen list and had also resulted to the ugly incident in Silchar Airport.
Reacting to the incident, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has warned against making of provocative statements against the NRC and said that outsiders making provocative statements about the NRC will not be accepted. He added that the people of Assam have shown tremendous political maturity which has made the publication of the complete draft NRC possible.
The unprecedented incident has also alerted other neighbouring states of Assam. Moreover Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya have already opened infiltration check-gates, fearing that those left out from the NRC lists may take shelter in the neighbouring states in North East region.
However, Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad Kongkal Sangma while reacting on the Khasi Students Union checking every vehicle entering Meghalaya at the state’s borders with Assam, stated that no Non Government Agency will be allowed to conduct any checking at the check post.
The checking was first stated by the Khasi Students Union fearing that the spillover of the NRC lists might enter Meghalaya, as the state has been fighting against infiltration for decades now.
Political pundits were also taken by surprise that the NRC will turn out to be the battle ground for TMC-BJP which has sparked off from Kumbhirgram Airport in Silchar, which will also turn into one of the agendas for the 2019 Lok Sabha general elections.