Yesterday, Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said, “We (government) have started the preliminary exercise to prepare the ground to introduce NRC in Karnataka.” As reported by the Times of India, the state government will begin collecting information about illegal immigrants in order to start the implementation of the NRC (National Register of Citizens). “They [pose] a very important threat to the state,” Bommai said.
First-time BJP MP Tejasvi Surya had also demanded the the NRC be introduced. Surya spoke up during Zero Hour of the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, claiming that the influx of immigrants from Bangladesh posed a “security threat” to Bengaluru and Karnataka.
The Home Minister claimed that the state government would take a decision within a week or two. However, The News Minute reported that the Karnataka government was at an advanced stage of building a detention centre for illegal immigrants. The centre is allegedly located at Nelamangala Taluk of Bengaluru Rural.
While the BJP is keen to introduce the NRC in the state, the previous Congress and JD(S) coalition government had dismissed the need for it, claiming that there were only about 200 illegal immigrants in the state. Janata Dal (Secular) spokesperson Tanveer Ahmed said, “Let the home minister of Karnataka first concentrate on flood victims. NRC is a national issue that needs a lot of deliberation.”
The NRC is a cause for concern due to the seemingly discriminatory nature of the citizen list. Officials from the United Nations have expressed worries about the huge volume of people who will be left stateless. Experts from the Human Rights Council had requested that the Indian Government review its decision to implement the NRC, warning that it might result in “discriminatory or arbitrary deprivation or denial of nationality”. They said that the burden of proof of nationality must lie on the State, not its citizens. With Amit Shah’s recent statement that Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist and Christian refugees would not be deported, the NRC’s communal flavour was once again brought to light.
Amit Shah in Kolkata: I today want to assure Hindu,Sikh,Jain,Buddhist &Christian refugees, you will not be forced to leave India by the Centre. Don’t believe rumours. Before NRC, we will bring Citizenship Amendment Bill, which will ensure these people get Indian citizenship pic.twitter.com/zcWhmL10xl
— ANI (@ANI) October 1, 2019
The BJP’s narrative that illegal immigrants from Bangladesh are taking away local jobs seems contrary to census data. According to the recently released 2011 Census data, 17.3% of the residents of Bengaluru are born outside the state of Karnataka. However, two-thirds of these migrants come from the nearby states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and undivided Andhra Pradesh. 42% of Bengaluru residents are migrants from outside the city, but most are from within Karnataka itself rather than from outside.
Karnataka has become home for so many people, such as the 14,000 Tibetan refugees at Byalikuppe. Bengaluru itself is known for its hospitality. It is hard to believe that a government list will expel these people and communities who have come here looking for a home.