A day after BJP president Amit Shah said the NRC would weed out “ghuspethiye” (infiltrators) in Assam, the Supreme Court-appointed coordinator for the exercise termed such descriptions as “too premature” and said that all the 40,07,707 people left out of the “complete draft” cannot be clubbed under that description, or as illegal migrants, merely on the basis of the register.
“No, we can’t say all these 40 lakh are ghuspethiye,” Prateek Hajela, the NRC coordinator, told The Indian Express in an interview. Hajela was responding to a question on whether those whose names were missing in the final draft could be called infiltrators or illegal migrants.
The man at the centre of the NRC exercise said that only a “judicial scrutiny” can establish whether a person can be called an illegal migrant or not.
“These people will get another chance to prove their credentials. Then we will come out with a final NRC. The NRC process will be over then. Even after that, whether a person is an illegal migrant or not is something that can be decided only by judicial scrutiny and that is through a certain set of codes, which has been established in Assam… called the Foreigners Tribunal,” Hajela said.
Acknowledging that “there could be errors” in finalising the draft NRC, as it is a “manual process”, the coordinator said people will have the opportunity to “object to any entry”.
“They (those in the draft) have been able to establish their credentials before us during rounds of verification that we have carried out. But again, somebody might object to any entry, which he or she thinks is not correct,” Hajela said, while responding to a query on whether those in the final draft released on July 30 can be recognised as legal citizens.
Hajela’s remarks hold significance in the wake of the political battle that has ensued between the ruling BJP and the Opposition parties over the process.
On Tuesday, BJP president Shah said the NRC was aimed at stopping illegal migration, which “has been damaging the national security of this country”.
“The NRC is for protecting human rights, the rights of Indians. The country cannot run like this. You cannot have (illegal) people from everywhere,” he had said.
TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however, accused the BJP of discriminating against and “questioning the Indianness of Indians” who do not support NRC.
“Who are they to decide who can stay in the country and who cannot? This is a ploy to target particular communities, this is to isolate them. At this rate, there will soon be a civil war, a bloodbath,” Banerjee had said.