The Union government on Friday made a very significant statement in the Supreme Court by saying that names of lakhs of people have been wrongly included in the draft National Register of Citizens being prepared in Assam to weed out illegal immigrants. Seeking more time to finalize the NRC, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the Central government, told the apex court that names of lakhs of people have been wrongly included in areas bordering Bangladesh due to involvement of local officers. This indeed is a very serious matter, one that right-thinking people across have been suspecting from the very beginning of the NRC preparation process that local officers who in many places come from the same place which has been full of suspected Bangladeshi infiltrators, had played mischief with the NRC verification process. The Solicitor General also reportedly told the Supreme Court that in many places names of genuine Indian citizens were excluded and illegal Bangladeshi migrants were included in the draft. That exactly is why the government has been seeking random verification of up to 20 per cent of the people who have been included in the draft NRC that was on the intervening night of December 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018. To quote the Solicitor General, as reported by media agencies, “Please extend the deadline for publication of final Assam NRC from July 31 to a future date. There is a growing perception that many exclusions and many more inclusions have been made wrongly.”
The pleadings of the Solicitor General of India before the Supreme Court should remind the people of Assam how officials conducting a summary revision of the electoral rolls of the Mangaldoi Lok Sabha constituency way back in 1978 for conducting a by-election had discovered names of several thousand people of doubtful origin already getting into the rolls in certain pockets of Darrang district. It was that discovery which had led to the mass movement led by the All Assam Students’ Union demanding detection of all Bangladeshi infiltrators across Assam, deleting names of those who had already managed to enrol themselves – definitely with the connivance of local officers who had affinity with the infiltrators because they share the same common roots in erstwhile East Bengal, erstwhile East Pakistan, and present-day Bangladesh – and deportation of those people from India. While that movement led by AASU lasted for six years and culminated in signing of the Assam Accord, two most vital clauses of the Accord – Clause 5 and Clause 6 – continue to remain unimplemented. The present BJP-led government, which has a legacy of the saffron party and its great leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee extending active support to the AASU-led movement, looks committed to detect the infiltrators by preparing a flawless NRC. While there are certain lobbies both at the national and the international level which are in the habit of denying that there has been any infiltration from Bangladesh, should come to Assam and just do one small check – ask people belonging to certain communities why they invariably listen to Bangladesh radio and not Akashvani. People who deny infiltration from Bangladesh should also read a reply in Parliament by MoS Home G Kishan Reddy on Thursday in which he said that over 1.17 lakh people have been declared as foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunals in Assam in the past 33 years. These Foreigners Tribunals, which function as per the procedure laid down in Foreigners Tribunals (Order) 1964 are regularly monitored by a Special Bench of the Gauhati High Court. Likewise, the NRC preparation process is also being constantly monitored by the Supreme Court of India.