The National Register of Citizens (NRC) issued its final list on Saturday but the ruling BJP, which has been passionately advocating for it for decades, is not happy. Himanta Biswa Sarma, senior BJP leader and Assam Finance Minister, said the list that has excluded over 19 lakh people, is “erroneous” as “more illegal migrants should have been excluded” and that the party’s fight to “exclude every single foreigner” from the state will continue.
Sarma told The Indian Express that the BJP and the state government will now approach the Supreme Court again for “re-verification” of the citizenship in the border districts.
While maintaining that the party’s official view on the final list will be known later, Sarma said the prima facie report that he received from the indigenous people is that “they are not at all happy with the outcome of the process”.
“The NRC has not been able to fulfil the expectation of the people of Assam because the entire process has excluded 19 lakh people, among which 3.80 lakh did not wish to appeal and those who have already died. So, the actual exclusion currently is 15 lakh, out of which around 5-6 lakh people are those who have migrated from Bangladesh due to religious persecution before 1971,” Sarma told The Indian Express over the telephone.
“NRC did not take the refugee certificate issued prior to 1971 in cognizance. This will be considered by the Tribunal which will hear the appeals. This will leave around 11 lakh. Again, there are many whose parents are included but are left out in the current list. When they will be included, the total number of exclusion will only be 6-7 lakh, which is very less,” Sarma said.
The BJP leader said the government had earlier declared 40 lakh people as foreigners in Assam – which even came out as a reply in Parliament. “But people in Assam are not happy because the number of exclusion is going to be much below than expected. The excluded number should have been more,” he said.
This, Sarma said, would make a case for both the BJP and the state government to revive its demand for re-verification of the list in the bordering districts, where Muslim migrants are greater in number.
The Centre and the Assam government had in July moved the Supreme Court seeking re-verification of 20 per cent of the names in the draft NRC. However, the apex court dismissed the request earlier this month.
“For us, the game is not over, we will continue our fight,” Sarma said.
The NRC, first published in Assam in 1951, is being updated following the SC orders to segregate Indian citizens living in Assam from those who have illegally entered the state from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.