What is the background of NRC and Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950?


Mubasir Raji
Since colonial times, Assam experiences a large scale influx of migrant population from other British dominated regions. Particularly from Bengal a large number of peasants came to Assam in search of fertile lands. British had a friendly attitude towards this migration.
Migration continues unabated for many years but in 1947 British decided to leave their Indian colony after partitioning it into the dominions of India and Pakistan. Partition and the subsequent communal riots led to the increase rate of migration towards Assam from East Pakistan regions.
Realizing the alarming situation the Government of India decided to formulate an Act.  They termed the Act as Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950. The Act gave authority to expel illegal immigrants from the soil of Assam. Now the question is how illegal immigrants are going to be identified?
To identify illegal immigrants, the National Register of Citizens was prepared for the first time in Assam during the conduct of 1951 Census. That was how the concept of National Registrar of Citizen (NRC) came for the first time. The idea was to record the particulars of every citizens residing in Assam as a part of Census of 1951 and to subsequently identify illegal immigrants.
The Immigrants Act 1950 was never implemented because the process the NRC could not be completed and illegal immigrants cannot be identified. The process of NRC turns out more complex than the Ministry of Home Affairs would like people to believe.
At that time both India and Pakistan were newly independent nations; the regulation for issuing Visa and passport between the two nations were not clearly spelt out. It was only possible after October 1952.
Another major roadblock before expelling illegal immigrants from the country was Foreigner Act 1946; before 1947 there was no two separate nations called India and Pakistan. Foreigners Act 1947 which gave the definition of a foreigner does not recognized Pakistani nationals as foreigners. In fact the act was amended to include Pakistani Nationals as foreigners only in the year 1957.
In the meanwhile demands to conduct NRC continue to get louder but no concrete steps were taken up by the government till 1965. The government came up with a new plan of issuing Identity cards in the year 1965.  The idea was to issue National Identity to all the Indian citizens residing in Assam and to detect illegal immigrants.
The concept of issuing National Identity Card was never clearly formulated and hence in the year 1965 the government of India decided to drop it in consultation with the state government. The idea of issuing National Identity card turns out impractical at that moment.
The issue took a sharp turn in 1971 India won the war against Pakistan that resulted in the birth of Bangladesh. During the war India help Bangladesh to win freedom against Pakistan. To be contd