At a meeting organised by Pahel foundation in Mumbai's Mira Road, anti NRC sentiments ran sky high with citizens expressing anger at the prospect of having to prove their citizenship. Addressing the large gathering Teesta Setalvad, secretary of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) said that Citizens must unite to protest against the BJP government's plan to implement an all India NRC. CJP is known for its extensive work
in dealing with the Citizenship question in Assam where the NRC process was recently concluded. Detailing the Assam experience, Ms Setalvad 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. In Assam, the process took more than five years to complete and costed the government a whooping 1220 Cr rupees. The process was predictably marked by a mad scramble for fifty year old documents, endless queues in front of government offices, allegations and counter allegations regarding the modalities used and even whispers of financial mismanagement. At the end of this process 19 Lakh people, belonging to all communities, but mostly Hindus were left out of the list. According to Ms Setalvad, to replicate the process across India is to impose collective misery on some of the most vulnerable parts of out society. Cautioning citizens against falling into a communally motivated Hindu vs Muslim trap, she said that if the NRC is implemented, the fallout is likely to affect all communities. Hence, she argued that a wide coalition of citizens needs to fight against the spectre of NRC in India.
Supporting her call for a grassroots civil movement against the NRC, members of the audience gave voice to the anxiety and anger that the prospect of proving citizenship is causing them. 'Why should we have to prove that we are Indians' was the common refrain. It was clear that a large number of people were ready to question the government on the NRC and the NPR. These are early signs that indicate that the ruling party may need more than just hubris to question the citizenship of Indians.