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The National Register of Citizens (NRC): Contested Citizenship and Statelessness in India’s Assam

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Gastvortrag von Angshuman Choudhury, Visiting Fellow, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), Berlin, Senior Researcher, Institut of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS), New Delhi, Datum: Mittwoch, 11. Dezember 2019, Beginn: 16:15 Uhr, Ort: Hörsaal II, Regina-Pacis-Weg 5, 53113 Bonn


In September 2019, India released the final iteration of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) — a registry of “genuine Indian citizens”, currently exclusive to the northeastern state of Assam, which was updated by order of the Supreme Court for the first time since 1951. The final list identified close to 1.9 million people as “illegal immigrants”, effectively rendering them stateless. The demand for the updating came from a longstanding ethno-nationalist movement in Assam and the power corridors of New Delhi to identify and deport “illegal immigrants” from neighbouring Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan). However, owing to the rigorous process of producing complex documents to prove one’s “Indianness”, the NRC has caused widespread misery, anxiety and desperation amongst the people of Assam, especially linguistic minorities, such as Bengalis. Those excluded from the final list, risk being denationalised and put in detention centres. Thus, India is looking at an impending situation of mass statelessness and mass detention. With the right-wing, Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in power, the NRC also stands deeply communalised along religious binaries. There are also talks about an ‘all-India NRC’. This talk will explore the sociopolitical and historical context of the NRC and its future trajectory.
Angshuman Choudhury is a senior researcher and coordinator of the Southeast Asia Re-search Programme at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS), New Delhi, India. He is also the first Germany-India-Brazil-South Africa (GIBSA Quadrilateral) visiting fellow at Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), Berlin. Angshuman Choudhury works on themes of armed conflict, peace processes, forced displacement, Indian foreign policy and ethno-nationalism. He is currently working on the ethnic armed conflict and national reconciliation process in Myanmar, the Rohingya crisis and the citizenship determination processes in Northeast India. Angshuman has written for various international and national publications, including The Diplomat, Asia Times, Channel News Asia, South Asia Journal, Economic & Political Weekly, The Hindu, Outlook, The Wire, etc., and has appeared in TV debates. He has a master degree in Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding from Durham University, UK.