After the announcement that a National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be made for the entire country in Parliament on Wednesday by Home Minister Amit Shah, the Assam government has demanded that the list be prepared afresh in the State. Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the NRC should be prepared afresh in Assam when it is being done for the whole country.
Sarma has been protesting from the beginning of the exercise, stating the flaws in the final draft of NRC released on 31 August in Assam.
The reason for BJP’s demand for creating a new NRC in Assam is that many Hindus who fled Bangladesh after 1971 are missing in this list. In such a situation, the BJP is in danger of resentment of a large section.
The government is preparing the Citizenship Amendment Bill in this session of Parliament, under which there will be a provision to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees coming from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, who have been in India for one to six years.
Sarma eyeing Hindu vote bank?
The final NRC is supposed to have included the names of those who are citizens of Assam or have lived in their ancestral state since before 25 March 1971. This was verified through official documents. Many Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists, who had come to India after 1971, have but got excluded from this list. The BJP, which is capitalising on this issue in Assam, found itself in an awkward position when more than 19 lakh people, mostly Hindu, had been kept out of the list.
According to experts, this demand of the Assam government seems to be an attempt to consolidate the Hindu vote bank. The Assam finance minister, who has been raising the issue of NRC in Assam since the beginning of his political life, said that there were many flaws in it, “about which we have already raised questions”.
Sarma said, “All social organisations of Assam have filed petitions in the Supreme Court in this regard. We believe that the existing NRC should be removed and it should be prepared afresh under the process going on throughout the country.”
‘Expectations not fulfilled’
Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the NRC prepared by State coordinator Prateek Hajela in the Supreme Court’s Supervision had failed to fulfil the aspirations of the people of Assam.
Home Minister Amit Shah said in Parliament today, “There is no provision in the NRC on the basis of which it is being alleged that people of a particular religion will not be included in it. All citizens, irrespective of their religion, can join the NRC list. The NRC is a separate process and the Citizenship Amendment Bill is a separate process. It cannot be put together.”
Shah said that NRC will be implemented throughout the country so that all citizens of India can join the NRC list.