The latest sinister move by the Tarun Gogoi government to get NRC modalities diluted has been rightfully nipped in the bud by the Supreme Court. The political design to keep the immigrant votebank happy was apparent when the Gogoi government moved the Supreme Court with the specious plea that due to the ‘difficulties faced by many in searching for legacy data’, the 2014 electoral rolls should be accepted as additiol document. However, it is common knowledge that the 2014 rolls are riddled through and through with the mes of lakhs of illegal Bangladeshi migrants. The apex court has now made it clear that the year 1971 up to 24 March remains the base year to update the 1951 NRC. With the orchestrated outcry in the State against the purported hassles faced by many in the NRC update exercise, the Tarun Gogoi government has been working overtime to complicate the issue. This it has been primarily doing by playing up the ‘difficulties’ of indigenous people in filling up NRC forms, while simultaneously pushing through its hidden agenda to incorporate the mes of lakhs of illegal migrants into the NRC once and for all. With the Supreme Court now assuring that it will look into the concerns expressed by indigenous people, hopefully their interests will be safeguarded from mischievous political designs. In its affidavit, the Assam government had moved the apex court to change NRC modalities for direct inclusion of all Hills and Plains Scheduled Tribes (STs) as well as six other ethnic communities, mely Morans, Motoks, Chutias, Tai-Ahoms, Koch-Rajbonghis and tea tribes. Apart from this, Dispur’s affidavit also pushed for straightaway including Scheduled Castes (SCs), OBCs and MOBCs in the updated NRC on the basis of caste certificates issued by competent authorities. In another affidavit filed by the Assam Public Works, the plea has been made to the apex court for direct inclusion of indigenous people in NRC on the basis of ‘area-specific surmes’.
Another issue before the apex court is — how will the NRC update exercise deal with Indian citizens who migrated to Assam after 24 March, 1971? Then there is the question of whether citizenship can be granted to children of foreign tiols born on Indian soil after 24 March, 1971 as per provisions of the Citizenship Act — about which the Union Home ministry and Assam government will have to clarify their positions in the apex court. The Supreme Court will take up all these issues for consideration on 21-22 July next, asserting that it is committed to resolve all complications that may arise in the NRC update exercise. In yet another patent attempt to muddy the waters, the Assam government tried to bring up the law and order issue before the apex court — as if going ahead with the exercise will trigger bloodshed in Assam! Such an attempt by the Tarun Gogoi government is not at all surprising however, considering that it has been continuously resisting and back-pedalling in starting the NRC update exercise for the last eight years. However, the Supreme Court this time has pointed out that while law and order in Assam is the responsibility of the State government, the NRC update exercise is under the Registrar General of India and the Central government. So the Assam government’s plea about facing difficulties does not hold water. Interestingly, with the 31st July deadline for submitting filled-up NRC forms only a fortnight away, the fact that only 8.5 lakh of the 64 lakh households have done so, as revealed by State NRC coorditor Prateek Hazela — is a pointer to how slowly the exercise is proceeding.