Dr Devika Borthakur, a performing arts teacher, was surprised to find her name missing from the first list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam, released five months ago. Borthakur, who hails from Assam, has been living in Pune for the last 15 years. “My family’s name figured in the first list, so I was perplexed when my name was missing,” she said. Her name was, however, included in the final NRC draft released on Monday.
While the NRC has evoked mixed reactions — the Opposition has attacked the process while the Centre has defended it as a filter to keep out Bangladeshi immigrants — the Assamese community in the city has largely supported the exercise by the Centre to set up the NRC and identify illegal migrants who came to Assam after 1971. Bishmita Dutta, who teaches Spanish and hails from Jorhat, said several of her friends were not included in the NRC’s first list but had found their names in the second one.
Mosumi Bora, a banker, said her brother-in-law’s name was missing from the initial list, but “he found his name in the second list”. She said people were being given the opportunity to rectify the first list, adding, “this is a good exercise as it paves the way for development.”
Pune has nearly 2,000 persons from Assam, who have been living in the city for years, said Rajib Borkataki, general secretary of Asomi, an association of Assamese persons. “We feel that the NRC is the right instrument to identify these illegal migrants. The only concern is that the right people should get a place in NRC, and none of the deserving aborigines from Assam are left behind due to lack of proper documentation,” he said.
Borkataki said it was likely that some illegal migrants, who were “influential businessmen”, didn’t find ways to tweak the system and find a place in the NRC. “The administration will need to handle the issue deftly… it will have to be able to deport lakhs of illegal migrants and avoid a law and order situation,” he said.
Rahul Mohan, who is from Moranhat, said the people of Assam had been “exposed to the problem of illegal migration”. “Illegal migrants from Bangladesh have encroached on our lands and in such a scenario, an NRC was required. But there should be some awareness among people, especially the authentic indigenous ones whose names may have been left out due to submission of irrelevant documents,” he said.
Mohan said politicians who were claiming to provide shelter to those “who had been left out of the NRC” were simply trying to strengthen their vote banks. “Illegal migrants should be filtered out,” he said.
Dr Samiran Phukan, a senior executive at Lupin Pharma, said there was “great euphoria” in the community because of the NRC. However, he admitted, “It is a massive exercise and there are grey areas. The Centre also needs to come out with a policy on what happens to persons who are excluded from the list”.
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