It is not for nothing that now and again we have been impelled to express our fears about the work of updating of the tiol Register of Citizens (NRC), 1951 being sabotaged by the Assam government. After all, in spite of repeated tripartite meetings involving the Union government, the Assam government and the leaders of the AASU during the days of the UPA government, the State government saw to it that the process of updating the NRC never got started. Our readers will recall that in 2010 the Assam government put up two pilot projects for the updating of the NRC of 1951. Violent riots broke out in Barpeta immediately as if on cue, resulting in four deaths, and both pilot projects were abandoned. It was important at that juncture for the Congress to pretend that it was serious about upgrading the NRC in view of the impending Assembly elections of 2011. It was equally important for the Congress to try and convince the indigenous inhabitants of Assam that the updating of the NRC was an almost impossible task. But any suggestion of the Congress being opposed to the updating of the NRC at that point would have jeopardized the electoral prospects of the Congress in the elections of 2011. It is not very difficult to infer that the State government is totally opposed to the updating of the NRC because of its serious consequences to the vote bank of illegal migrants from Bangladesh. The emergence of the BJP under the leadership of rendra Modi has made it even more imperative that updating of the NRC should be sabotaged by the Congress in every possible way. The importance of this was underscored by the results of the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 in which the Congress was able to win only three Lok Sabha seats in Assam.
The objective of sabotaging the updating of the NRC would have been sustained quite openly had it not been for the steps taken by the Supreme Court to fix a rigid timeframe for the work and its orders to the Union government to release the necessary funds to expedite the work. As a result of writ petitions filed in the Supreme Court by NGOs like Assam Public Works (APW) and Prabajan Virodhi Manch (PVM), the apex court has taken steps to monitor the progress of updating the NRC and has been pulling up the Assam government for its tardiness that could delay the completion of the work beyond January 2016. As such, the sabotaging the NRC of 1951 will now have to be confined to three principal expedients. The first of them is ensuring that many of the districts of Assam do not have the NRC of 1951. Even when the copies of the NRC are available, there will be every effort to make them disappear. The second device would be to add mes that were not there in the origil NRC. The third would be to orchestrate violent riots with the help of illegal migrants from Bangladesh to oppose the updating of the NRC so that the Assam government can tell the Centre that this exercise is impossible. There are already reports of the NRC being tampered with. mes have been added to the old NRC wherever spaces have been found and in some cases by adding supplements in the form of (a), (b), (c) etc. to a serial number. The change in the colour of the ink makes it clear that additions have been made. Besides, even in the process of digitizing the NRC, new mes have been added. The serial numbers of the digitized version does not match the origil one in many cases. The PVM has already made allegations about the tampering of the NRC, and the Home Ministry is reported to have made arrangements to send a team to investigate the allegations. Unfortutely, there seems to be no dearth of 21st century Badan Barphukans without any qualms about such acts of treason against their own people. And that is precisely why it is so important for all right-thinking people and organizations to thwart all possible moves to sabotage the updating of the NRC. From now on, the Supreme Court and the Union Home Ministry must be continually exhorted by the people to maintain a ceaseless monitoring of the updating work, since the Assam government cannot be trusted to ensure an honest revision of the NRC.