Now that the work of collecting the forms and registering the mes for the updating of the tiol Register of Citizens (NRC) is complete, those engaged in the precious work are struggling to complete the verification of documents. This work needs to be completed on schedule for the NRC to be properly and correctly updated well before the Assembly elections of 2016. But if the political executive of Assam can have its way, there will be many more hurdles to ensure that the updating of the NRC is left incomplete by the scheduled dates set by the Supreme Court for each stage of the work. A section of senior bureaucrats close to the political executive, is known to have created difficulties by posting officials connected with the updating of the NRC to remote locations and by reiterating to deputy commissioners of the State that the NRC update work does not rate any priority. This is most unfortute considering that the work of updating the NRC is crucial to the very existence of the indigenous people of the State. And it is not as though the updating of the NRC will be undertaken every year. Everyone is aware of how the State government kept postponing the work of updating the NRC for years together until the Supreme Court, realizing the importance of the work and the reason for the State government’s total disinclition to have the work done, took up the matter and set rigid deadlines for the completion of each phase of the work. By now, the registration of mes has been completed in time with one extension of a month given for the work. It is the rest of the work that is of greater significance in completing the task of updating the NRC.
It is because a properly updated NRC goes against the interests of the ruling Congress party in the State, that we have been witness to such strong and determined acts of sabotage by the State government itself. A correct updating of the NRC will reveal the huge number of illegal migrants from Bangladesh who have, for years, provided an illegal vote bank for the Congress and prevent people whose mes do not appear in the updated NRC from voting in the forthcoming Assembly elections of 2016. A political party that has subverted the electoral process of the country as stipulated by our Constitution, cannot be happy about the prospects of the forthcoming elections with a large segment of voters in the electoral roll suddenly disfranchised just before the elections. As such, every possible means of sabotaging the publication of a properly updated NRC is being worked on. What seems to have been totally overlooked is that despite its reluctance the ruling Congress in Assam has been compelled by the Supreme Court to undertake and complete the updating of the NRC of 1951. It thus has a fait accompli on its hands that it cannot walk out of. Moreover, hundreds of crores of rupees have been sanctioned by the Centre and spent on the updating of the NRC. This is public money and not charity extended by some benevolent individual. No one has the right to waste such huge sums of public money on some kind of wild goose chase. A government that eventually agreed to the updating of the NRC has the responsibility of ensuring that the work is properly completed in time, regardless of its known disinclition for the exercise. The All Assam Students Union has, therefore, done well to demand that the government should not engage officials working on the NRC elsewhere or transfer them to other jobs until the NRC update work is completed. This is a just demand that should be vociferously supported by the people and monitored by the media every week with reports of how many officers engaged in the NRC update work have been engaged in other work. This should also be brought to the notice of the Supreme Court by NGOs and institutions striving for an efficient and timely updating of the NRC.