PANAJI: The National Registry of Citizens (NRC) has already caused havoc in Assam and if implemented in Goa, will adversely affect at least 4 lakh persons, mostly belonging to marginalised sections of the society who don’t have any birth certificate to prove their nationality, said members of newly formed Goa Alliance against CAA-NCR-NPR (GACNN), a platform to create awareness on the “ill effects” of the three citizenship related central government policies.
“There are around 3.5 to 4 lakh tribals in Goa according to the 2011 census. Amongst these, nearly 1.5 lakh don’t have any birth certificate as in earlier days deliveries used to be done by mid-wives at homes. Official government identity documents like ration card, Aadhaar Card, PAN card, voter Identity card all as invalid for proving citizenship. So all these people who are sans birth certificates, how are they supposed to prove their nationality?” questioned activist and member of GACNN, Rama Kankonkar while interacting with media.
Moreover, of the 16 lakh population of Goa, names of 30 per cent of them have been spelt wrongly on Aadhaar cards. Fishermen and Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card holders (foreign citizens of Indian origin allowed to work in India indefinitely) will be also directly affected.
“There are 2.5 lakh fishermen in Goa. Many have migrated to Portugal and now their children are working here with OCI status. They have land here. This entire NRC and National Population Registry (NPR) can be used to cancel citizenship of such people and grab their land. There are around 4 lakh Portuguese passport holders. They will all get affected,” Kankonkar said.
Another member of the GACNN Advocate Albertina Almeida said along with NRC-NPR, Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has the potential make lives of young OCI card holders more difficult.
“The CAA has the provision of booking OCI card holders at any pretext and cancel their citizenship. They will be them classified as doubtful citizens and send them to detention centres. This lethal combination of NRC-NPR-CAA is not only unconstitutional but also unethical,” she said.
Adv Victor Savio Braganza on the occasion said after the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act, citizens concerned about the “dangerous precedents” and terms of citizenship being set by this law met in Panaji on 7 January, a decision was unanimously taken to form an alliance to fight this “exclusionary law”, and also related measures such as the NPR and the proposed NRC, as these will all “strike at the very roots of citizenship” as guaranteed by the Constitution of India.
“The Alliance has been termed as the Goa GACNN. It is concerned about this assault on the basic structure of the Constitution, as this will lead to denial of equality of citizenship. Apart from creating an exclusion on the basis of religion, it is women, children, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and members of the working class, as well as overseas citizens of India forced to migrate abroad for their livelihoods, who are the potential victims of these arbitrary laws and exercises,” veteran journalist Prakash Kamat said.
According to him, the CAA will create different classes of citizens, by calling upon citizens to prove their citizenship through arbitrary and cumbersome proceedings which would deny the local vulnerable populations of society their access to citizenship and consign them to detention centres, enabling state and corporate take-over of their resources.
“The vesting of tremendous power in the bureaucracy will only intensify the arbitrary nature of the exercise. GACNN also notes with concern the implications of CAA-NPR-NRC for the federal character of the Indian Constitution,” Advocate Victor Savio Braganza said.
Asif Hussain appealed to citizens to “join forces to bring pressure to bear on the Government to repeal the CAA” and GACNN has therefore decided to launch a state-wide awareness programme about CAA and its plans for the proposed NPR and NRC.