During his visit to Guwahati for the NE Chief Ministers meet on Saturday, Union Home Minister Rajth Singh was at pains to clarify that the Central government is not on the same page with the Assam government as far as the issue of demanding dilution of NRC (tiol Register of Citizens) norms is concerned. The Home Minister emphasised that it is the Supreme Court that will issue directives about how the NRC update process will go ahead in Assam. At the same time, Rajth Singh hastened to reassure that ‘the interests of genuine Indian citizens will be safeguarded’. However, it is the distinction between genuine citizens and illegal migrants that the Tarun Gogoi government seems hell-bent in blurring out, and thereby throw the entire NRC update exercise into utter confusion.
The cabinet sub-committee’s recent recommendations to push for the 2014 electoral rolls as an additiol document for including mes into NRC, as well as expanding the list of acceptable documents by considering caste certificates for indigenous communities, certificates issued by tea garden magements for tea workers, village headman’s certificate for children without birth certificates, and any government document issued by any state for Indian citizens who migrated from these states to Assam after 1971. This panel professes to be worried about the difficulties indigenous peoples are supposedly facing in filling up NRC forms, but it is common knowledge how illegal migrants have been getting hold of various government documents, particularly from West Bengal, to strengthen their claims here. With the orchestrated campaign against the NRC update exercise to be ‘too complicated’ for indigenous communities, the Tarun Gogoi government is working overtime to pander to its Bangladeshi votebank with 2016 Assembly elections barely ten months away. With its nefarious aim to turn the NRC update into a hopelessly tangled mess, this government expects the Supreme Court will be forced to loosen its grip over the exercise before the deadline of January next year. However, the apex court may yet cut through this attempted Gordian knot — as it has done in the past to compel the Tarun Gogoi government to take up the NRC update exercise, which it should have begun in 2007.