It is well known that the updating of the tiol Register of Citizens (NRC) was the last thing that the Congress ever wanted. And no wonder, despite tripartite agreements among the Centre, the Assam government and the All Assam Students Union (AASU) to update the NRC, the work has been sabotaged time and again by the Congress government of the State. According to an earlier tripartite agreement, the updating of the NRC should have been completed by 2007. But nothing of the sort happened because Tarun Gogoi’s Congress government had a long stint of 15 years in Assam. Since the deadline of 2007 could not be kept, a fresh deadline of 2010 was set. But in 2010, the Tarun Gogoi government, instead of starting the work in earnest, unleashed some mischief before the Assembly elections of the State that were to be held in 2011. Instead of getting the work of updating the NRC started, he set up two pilot projects of the task and synchronously got a violent protest movement started in Barpeta in which four people died. This was good enough reason for him to completely scrap the work of updating the NRC. He would have certainly succeeded in sabotaging the work of updating the NRC completely had it not been for the timely intervention of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ordered the updating of the NRC to be started immediately and directed the Central government to provide the funds without any delay. There was precious little that Tarun Gogoi could do to stop the work after the Supreme Court order. But he never stopped trying. He got his favourite senior bureaucrats to influence deputy commissioners of the different districts to inform them that the work of updating the NRC deserved much lower priority than many of the other work at hand. In fact, some deputy commissioners were even persuaded to depute staff earmarked for the updating work of the NRC on other assignments so that the process of updating the NRC could be delayed. And while Tarun Gogoi kept pretending (for public consumption) that the NRC updating work was very important, he used every possible means to slow down and sabotage the entire exercise. And had it not been for a very dedicated bureaucrat like Prateek Hajela, he might well have succeeded in what he was trying to do.
In a lot of ways, the updating work of the NRC has gone through rough weather. In the first place it is a stupendous task anyway. Those engaged in the exercise have had to examine crores of documents and have had to deal with lakhs of forged/fake documents. Even so, the work has been going on steadily and could be completed by October this year but for the game being played now by Congress leader Siddque Ahmed who claims that all those people of doubtful Indian tiolity who have been ordered by the administration to leave Mayong (largely due to determined public pressure) are actually Indian tiols affected by the large-scale riverine erosions during the latest floods. Siddique Ahmed has been so deeply committed to the protection of Bangladeshis pretending to be Indians that he has gone to the extent of claiming that there has been murder of democracy in Mayong and that the pawns have been people rendered homeless by erosions. He has even claimed that the kind of atrocities committed on such people in Assam has no parallel in any civilized country. Worse, Siddique Ahmed has predicted that as soon as the updated draft of the NRC is published there will be an explosive situation in the State.
The updating of the NRC is an important administrative undertaking that has been ordered by the Supreme Court and finced by the Union government. Obviously, therefore, the updating of the NRC does not become an anti-people exercise just because someone like Siddique Ahmed claims that it is directed against Indian tiols or because he indirectly threatens (in the guise of sounding a warning) commul violence as soon as the draft updated NRC is published. There are adequate laws in the land to prevent commul leaders from stoking riots, and these laws must be enforced to ensure that Siddique Ahmed does not get the opportunity he is waiting for to create riots in the interests of illegal Bangladeshi migrants pretending to be Indian citizens. There must be no let up in ensuring that protectors of illegal migrants in Assam do not escape legal action for activities of sedition masked by the veneer of humanism. If Ahmed is talking about an explosive situation arising from the publication of the draft updated NRC, it must be because he is planning to create such a situation. This must be prevented at all costs. Likewise, anyone else making similar sinister predictions must be questioned on what grounds they oppose a perfectly legal and constitutiol demographic exercise. Stringent action against trouble-mongers would go a long way in providing the administrative support to an exercise like the updating of the NRC.
At a time when other political adventurers have started attacking the exercise of updating the NRC because the updated NRC will expose not only the large number of illegal infiltrators who are in Assam pretending to be Indian tiols but also those in our own administrative machinery who have helped them to secure all kinds of certificates and documents to prove their Indian citizenship, it will not do to forget that Tarun Gogoi has been the principal architect of the sustained attempt to sabotage the updating of the NRC. Unfortutely, he has been spared the kind of relentless criticism and rebuke that he would have had to face if he had tried anything similar in any other Indian State. Those of us who have failed to project him and his deeds accurately to the people have failed in their duty as patriotic citizens. What needs to be done now is to keep Tarun Gogoi under constant attack within the Assembly with legislators constantly reminding him of his antitiol acts by repeatedly citing the diverse ways in which he sought to sabotage the updating of the NRC merely for electoral gains.