Then & Now: It Doesn’t Add Up
- 30 lakh foreigners in Assam in 1992, says then CM Hiteswar Saikia in the assembly. Two days later, he says not a single illegal immigrant lives in Assam.
- 1 crore foreigners in India, including Assam—then Union home minister Inderjit Gupta tells Parliament in 1997.
- 50 lakh foreigners in Assam out of 1.2 crore in India, says junior home minister Sriprakash Jaiswal in Parliament in 2004. (He too withdraws the number later).
- 2 crore Bangladeshi infiltrators in India, says junior Union home minister Kiren Rijiju in Rajya Sabha in 2016.
Some stories remain unfinished; the plot goes awry, the end falters, the twist in the tale never comes. But still it makes for fascinating reading. Like the story of the NRC in Assam—nearly 35 years in the pipeline and four years in the making. Yet, when the “end” came on August 31, it appeared that the contentious National Register of Citizens has only found a new beginning. The cast and characters remain the same, but the plot is likely to change. “I remember a line from the Pirates of the Caribbean...‘nothing personal..., it’s just good business’. The NRC and the issue of illegal migration are just like that...so many shops run on these issues; for political parties, organisations and groups...the show must go on for them,” says a school teacher in Guwahati who identified himself by his first name, Abhijit.