The NRC and Foreigners

Representative images

It is now quite clear that the publication of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) cannot be completed even by the revised deadline of June 30, 2018 and that some additional time must be given to complete the work. The news has not come as a total surprise since no one was entirely sanguine that the latest revised deadline would indeed be the final deadline for the publication of the revised draft of the NRC. There are compelling reasons for the further extension of the deadline for the completion of the work. There is a very strong vested interest that is hell bent on ensuring that the names of a large number of foreigners (mainly from Bangladesh) are included in the updated NRC. An important fact of life that has not received the kind of attention that it should have is that a large number of migrants from Bangladesh who came after 1971 and even after 2014 did not get themselves registered as foreigners even though this was a mandatory requirement. It does not call for any great intelligence to realize that most of the illegal migrants from Bangladesh had secretly nursed the hope that they could find some means of getting listed not as foreign nationals from Bangladesh but as Indian citizens. That explains why lakhs of immigrants from Bangladesh refrained from registering themselves as foreigners in accordance with the legal requirements of our country. The fact that a large number of them were able to get their names included in the electoral roll of Assam, served to bolster their belief that securing Indian citizenship was only a small step away and would happen without much difficulty. It is indeed unfortunate that our politicians who are afraid of being able to get elected on the strength of their performance resort to the highly illegal and antinational modus operandi of getting the names of foreign nationals entered in the electoral roll since the extended electoral roll with their names in it is a virtual guarantee that the foreigners illegally included in the voters list would all vote for the politician(s) responsible for getting their names included in the electoral roll. This is indeed a deplorable case of our politicians getting the names of foreign nationals illegally included in the electoral roll solely for personal gain and in total disregard of national security and interests.

While one wishes that the deadline set for the publication of the updated NRC was not extended so frequently, it is also important to ensure (a) that fake certificates and ‘proofs’ of identity are summarily rejected and people attempting to submit such certificates and proofs of identity are given due punishment under the laws of the land; and (b) that the names of as many foreigners as possible (wrongly included in the updated NRC) are deleted. According to reports, 29,000 Bangladeshis who had entered Assam during the period 1966 to March 24, 1971 were detected. Of them, around 15,000 detected or declared foreigners had not registered themselves with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office according to rules. According to the rules, such immigrants should have registered themselves within three weeks after detection, but this period was subsequently extended to six months with the stipulation that the names of such people would not be included in the electoral rolls of the next 10 years. The very extension of the time allowed for registration as foreign nationals has been a very lenient move. Even more lenient has been the decision to allow such foreigners to reside in the State undisturbed thereafter. Many among them have now applied for inclusion of their names in the NRC. There can be no question of allowing the names of such foreigners to be included in the NRC. Considering that the supporters in Assam of illegal migrants from Bangladesh have done everything possible to get their names included in the updated NRC, it may be necessary to extend the deadline for the publication of the updated NRC by a few more weeks to ensure that we have a clean NRC with just the names of Indian citizens living in Assam and totally free of the names of foreigners.