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EDITORIAL

Sabotage of the National Register of Citizens?

Of late, there have been far too many glitches relating to the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) that have given rise to legitimate worries about how dependable the updated NRC really is. There was a time when we had the bold assertion that the updated NRC was totally free of the names of foreign nationals. But the passing of time has made it clear that this is far from being the real position. Over the last few weeks, it has become clear that there are thousands of names of foreign nationals in our updated NRC and that this is something that has happened more by design than by accident. And wherever the name of some foreign national that was there in the updated NRC had to be removed because the person concerned was declared a foreigner by one of the foreigner’s tribunals, there were concerted efforts to keep the names of the relatives of that person in the updated NRC. Mischief is too innocuous a term for what has been done to the updated NRC. What we have had is a major act of sabotage. What is worse is that very little is going to be done to undo the sabotage because it was the neglect of very senior bureaucrats and some determined politicians who are responsible for what has happened to the updated NRC. They are unlikely to go very deep into the business of correcting the faulty NRC because in doing so they will also end up exposing their own carelessness in failing to ensure that the updated NRC was really free of the names of foreign nationals.

What we really have now is a so-called updated NRC that is far from being either reliable or correct because the presence of a large number of names of foreign nationals is now a well-established fact. The very expensive task of updating the NRC to have a correct and reliable list of only the Indian nationals of Assam was vital for the country because of the very large-scale influx of foreign nationals from Bangladesh into Assam. The objective was to have a list of Indian nationals alone so that the foreign nationals could be easily identified due to their names not being traceable in the updated NRC. The updated NRC in its present form is so full of the names of foreign nationals that the Supreme Court is having to insist on a reverification of 10 per cent of the names in the updated NRC. We can very well anticipate what is likely to happen after the Supreme Court is convinced that the updated NRC is far from being what it was expected to be. The apex court will have no option left but to order a comprehensive revision of the updated NRC, because the NRC in its updated is still full of errors. Accepting such a document as the updated and correct form of the NRC will be no different from accepting an empty ritual performed in the name of updating the NRC.

The normal course of action after a sabotage of such magnitude in any civilized country would be a complete revision of the completed work (at least to delete the names of all the foreign nationals that are still there) and very stringent punishment of the officers involved in this exceptionally anti-national sabotage. Not all the officers involved in the updating of the NRC are responsible for the sabotage. The ones responsible are very limited in number and can be easily identified. They should be tried expeditiously and sentenced. The sad part of the entire business is that the final draft of the NRC—a completely reliable one without the name of a single foreign national—may now become a much-delayed outcome. What is saddening is that a section of saboteurs who do not want the work of updating the NRC to be completed should have succeeded at least partially in their diabolic attempt to sabotage the NRC update.

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Sentinel Group