GUWAHATI: The Union Home Minister, Amit Shah announced in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) update process will be carried out afresh in Assam concurrently with the rest of India.
Reacting to the decision, leader of opposition Debabrata Saikia said, “Not even three months have elapsed since the final updated NRC was published in Assam under the supervision of the Supreme Court and, significantly, the Apex court has accepted the validity of the final NRC. Therefore, Shah’s announcement about a fresh NRC update in Assam indicates that the Central Government is unwilling to accept the decision of the Supreme Court.
“The NRC was updated in Assam by engaging over 50,000 employees of the state government and spending over Rs 1200 crore of tax-payers’ money. Around 3.29 crore inhabitants of Assam went through a great deal of trouble to collect documentation and participate in the process. Some people had to sell livestock and even property in order to prove their citizenship. Yet others had to travel up to 600 kilometers to previously unseen places to attend NRC hearings in the final phase. A few persons lost their lives during such journeys.
“Certain inferences flow naturally from the Central Government’s decision to carry out a fresh NRC update process in Assam. First, the Central Government wants to carry out the NRC update process without supervision of the Supreme Court so that a section of genuine citizens from the religious minority community can be excluded and a section of illegal migrants from the linguistic minority community can be inducted in the NRC. Second, the BJP wants to keep the NRC issue simmering in order to further its agenda of polarization along religious lines.
“I would like to appeal to the Supreme Court not to allow the Central Government to carry out another NRC update exercise in Assam only a brief interval after completion of a lengthy process for the same purpose. Otherwise, over three crore residents of Assam will face renewed harassment in the name of proving their citizenship. This apart, the Supreme Court should also consider the fact that execution of development work suffered terribly in Assam over the last six years or so as a result of over 50,000 state government employees being deputed to carry out NRC-related work. Assam and its people cannot afford another such phase.
“I would also like to urge the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) to strongly oppose the latest move of the Central Government. The NRC has been updated on the basis of the cut-off deadline of 1971 stipulated in the Assam Accord of 1985, to which the AASU was a signatory. If the main provision of the Assam Accord is thrown to the winds by the Central Government, then the six-year-long Assam Movement and the martyrdom of 855 persons will become meaningless.”