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Making the Most of the NRC

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  5 Dec 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Amid the total callousness of the Assam government to the task of getting a reliable and correct updated NRC not to speak of clear acts of sabotage within the government, there are quite a few sane voices of right-thinking citizens constantly reminding us how important a correctly updated NRC is for the very survival of the Assamese people. One of them is that of Upamanyu Hazarika, the Commissioner appointed by the Supreme Court to go into a gamut of issues related to the open border between Bangladesh and Assam and to the large- scale illegal immigration from Bangladesh resulting from such a situation. Speaking to jourlists at a press conference in Guwahati on Thursday, Hazarika said that an authentic and foolproof tiol Register of Citizens (NRC) was a dire need against the backdrop of illegal cross-border migration from Bangladesh, with the suspected illegal migrants making systematic encroachment on government land across the State. He expressed concern over the thriving fake birth certificate racket in the State and said that a CBI enquiry was needed to get to the roots of the disturbing development. “It has come to light how illegal migrants are using fake birth certificates to enrol their mes as Indian citizens in the voters list. A CBI enquiry is needed to unearth this, as a section of government machinery is involved in it. The ongoing NRC data verification process too needs to be made stringent so that none can enter their mes with the help of fake documents,” he said. Hazarika was of the view that all political parties had failed the State on the issue of illegal migration from Bangladesh, with all the parties indulging in vote-bank politics on the matter. “This is despite the fact that it is a development with long-term sinister implications for the indigenous populace,” he said. Office-bearers of the Prabajan Birodhi Mancha, which had organized the press conference, said that according to official data procured through RTI, a total of 77,240 bighas of government land at Sipajhar along the bank of the Brahmaputra had been under illegal occupation of suspected Bangladeshi tiols. “There has been a systematic encroachment upon government land by illegal migrants across the State. This needs to be checked,” he said, adding that the Mancha would be submitting a memorandum to the Mangaldoi Deputy Commissioner in this regard on December 5.

Upamanyu Hazarika must be well aware of the kind of sabotage by senior government officers that is going on to derail the entire operation of updating the NRC. It is this kind of sabotage (mainly involving the detailing of government officers working on the updating of the NRC to other less important tasks) that prompted State Coorditor Prateek Hajela to seek from the Supreme Court another extension of the deadline set for the publication of the fil NRC. And while the Supreme Court bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohington riman rejected the Assam government’s plea for further extension of deadline, the learned judges said that all efforts should be made to meet the deadline and directed the Assam government to ensure that the 34,000 State personnel engaged in updating the NRC were put exclusively on the job for its timely completion. While turning down the Assam government’s request for a further extension of the deadline, the Supreme Court bench asked Hajela what he needed to keep to the deadline. “Tell us, do you need more funds? Do you need more manpower? Do you need more infrastructure? We will provide you,” Justice Gogoi said. We all know that the Assam government is not going to ask for what is really needed. And that is why one hopes that the Supreme Court will also heed the genuine aspirations of the people. This can be best ensured by the Supreme Court issuing a clear directive to the State government that none of the 34,000 State personnel engaged in the task of updating the NRC will be engaged in any other work except their present allotted task. This will imply that they cannot be engaged even in election duties until the work of updating the NRC is completed. This would virtually rule out the holding of the Assembly elections of 2016 before the task of updating the NRC is completed to the satisfaction of the Supreme Court. However, people in Assam will have a better sense of security if the Supreme Court categorically directs the State government and the Election Commission not to hold the Assembly elections of 2016 in Assam until the task of updating the NRC is completed to the entire satisfaction of the Supreme Court. This would take away the motivation for sabotaging the NRC update work the moment it is clear that the Supreme Court will allow the Assembly elections to be held only after the task of updating the NRC is properly completed.

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