The publication of the much anticipated final draft of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) has kickstarted a political slugfest as 40 lakh people found their names excluded from the list. Of the 3.29 crore people who had filled their applications for the NRC, 2.89 crore found their names in the draft list. Even as a sense of uneasiness swept through Assam, the government clarified that for no person a “reference” would be sent to the Foreigners Tribunals nor would anyone be sent to detention camps.
NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela said of the 40 lakh names not included as of now, 2.48 lakh people belong to four categories: D-voters, descendants of D (doubtful)-voters (those who have drawn descendancy from D voters), people whose cases are pending at Foreign Tribunals and descendants of these persons.
Assam NRC final draft echoes in Parliament
The assurance from the government did little to pacify the opposition as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee picked holes in the NRC updation process and the issue echoed in the Parliament, leading to adjournment of the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. TMC, Congress and Samajwadi Party MPs continued to protest, allowing the Upper House to transact business for all of 14 minutes on Monday.
In the Lok Sabha, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s call to the Opposition not to “unnecessarily politicise a sensitive issue” failed to cut ice as TMC, Congress, CPI(M) and SP criticised the Centre over the publication of the list, saying it put “human rights and democratic rights” of people at stake. TMC MP Saugata Roy also gave a notice in the Lok Sabha for an adjournment motion. Read full story
The din in the Rajya Sabha over the issue continued on Tuesday as TMC MPs raised slogans from aisles, forcing adjournment of the House twice. BJP chief Amit Shah’s remark that Congress did not have the courage to implement the NRC despite signing the Assam Accord way back in 1985 led to an uproar by the Opposition. “Rajiv Gandhi signed the Assam accord in 1985, which was similar to NRC. They did not have the courage to implement it, we did,” Shah said.
Mamata Banerjee leads no-holds-barred attack
It was the TMC supremo who led the Opposition charge outside Parliament, slamming the Centre for turning “Indian citizens into refugees” and targetting “people from Bengal and Bihar”. Banerjee maintained that the exclusion of 40 lakh names from the NRC draft was “forceful eviction” to suit the “political interests of the ruling party” ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Claiming that her government would consider providing shelter on humanitarian grounds to people who enter Bengal from Assam, Banerjee demanded to know on what basis the 40 lakh people were not incorporated in the list. “We have got reports that people who possess government documents such as Aadhaar cards and passports have been left out of the draft list. Today, they became refugees because of the central government and its policies,” she said. Read full story
BJP floats idea of an NRC in West Bengal
The BJP was quick to react to Banerjee’s remarks, with party general secretary in charge of West Bengal Kailash Vijayvargiya saying there should be a similar effort to “identify illegal migrants from Bangladesh in West Bengal”. “The number could run into crores in West Bengal. The youth in Bengal want to identify the illegal migrants from Bangladesh as they are facing several problems like unemployment and law and order issues,” he said.
The idea of an NRC in Bengal was seconded by state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh also, who said a similar list would be published in Bengal if the saffron party was voted to power in the state. Slamming Banerjee for doing “vote bank politics on every issue”, Ghosh said, “If we are voted to power in Bengal, we will also implement NRC. We will send back illegal citizens who have taken shelter in the state. Those who will support them will also be thrown out.” Read full story
Assam only state to have an NRC
Assam, the only state to have an NRC, published the final draft of its updated list on Monday that includes the names of those people (or their descendants) who appear in the 1951 NRC or in any of the electoral rolls up to March 24, 1971 or in any one of the other admissible documents issued up to March 24, 1971. This is the cutoff date in the Assam Accord of 1985, agreed upon by the Centre, the state and the All Assam Students’ Union, at the end of a six-year movement against migration from Bangladesh.
Forms to file objections available from August 7
As 40 lakh people did not find their names in the list, panic and chaos reigned in the north-eastern state, with officials quickly clarifying that forms for claims, objections and requests for correction would be available from August 7 at Seva Kendra and could be submitted from August 30 to September 28.
The Registrar General of India has also notified the deadline for final publication of the NRC list and said the updation should be completed within the period ending December 31, 2018.