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Delaying the Draft NRC

All of a sudden, the publication of the draft National register of Citizens (NRC) has been plagued by delays that could have been anticipated but were not. There is now the distinct impression that the task mandated by the Supreme Court and regarded as very vital by all patriotic Indians familiar with the problems faced by Assam due to large-scale illegal migration of people from Bangladesh, is sought to be sabotaged by a group of anti-Indians that have managed to exert considerable perverse influence on those entrusted with the updating of the NRC. What seems rather significant is that the work of updating the NRC which was progressing quite satisfactorily till about two months ago should have got bogged down all of a sudden on the plea of the number of applications that are yet to be verified before the deadline of December 31, 2017 that was determined after several changes of date. One cannot afford to forget that the important task of revising and updating the NRC was repeatedly delayed by several years and might even have been abandoned by the government if the Supreme Court had not intervened to order its expeditious completion. The position now is that out of the 3.21 crore applicants, about two crore applicants have been verified, with the authorities yet to come to a final decision regarding about 1.23 crore applicants. This is a situation that renders the possibility of the draft NRC being published by the further revised deadline of December 31 rather slim. The State NRC coordinator, Prateek Hajela is reported to have submitted a status report before a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justice Rohinton F Nariman wherein he has mentioned the total number of applicants and the number of applications already verified. He has also mentioned that there may be a delay of two to four months in the publication of the draft NRC. Hajela’s submission is reported to have left the Supreme Court bench rather upset considering that this is not the first appeal to the apex court for an extension of the deadline. The Supreme Court bench has demanded to know the cause of delay and why the process of updating the NRC was taking so long. And while it did not pass any order, it fixed November 10 as the next date of hearing. The hearing on the Original Inhabitant case was also scheduled on the same date.
There are reasons to believe that the updating of the NRC is likely to get further delayed for two reasons. One is the issue of original inhabitants. The problem hinges on whether the original inhabitants are to be indicated in the updated NRC as being original inhabitants. This may not be a major issue, because in the ultimate analysis what really matters is the inclusion of the names of all Indian citizens in Assam in the updated NRC. This will distinguish them from the illegal migrants who are not Indian citizens but have been living in the State illegally for quite some time. The other issue is the one of internal security in the State after the publication of the draft NRC. Threats to internal security will emanate from the illegal migrants from Bangladesh who have no intentions of returning to their homeland. If this can be tackled with the adequate deployment of security forces and the Army, the problem can be solved. There are powerful foreign vested interests who do not want a corrected NRC. So there should be no hesitation about using force in a good cause—the one of saving the land from illegal migrants from another country. We must ensure that the updating of the NRC is properly completed, even if further extension of time is needed.