GUWAHATI: A discussion on the would-be fate of names to be excluded from the final NRC turned out to be a hot debate between the ruling and the Opposition benches in the State Assembly on Thursday when State NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela was the target of the ruling party members. While the ruling party members dropped enough hints that an NRC with foreigners’ names will be a document to give Indian citizenship to a section of foreigners, members of the Opposition parties said that any attempt to give a negative impression even before the publication of the citizens’ list may spell disaster in the post-NRC period.
Amidst the ruckus, State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary — on behalf of the House — appealed to the Supreme Court to reconsider the government’s plea for an extension of the re-verification period. Patowary also dropped an indirect hint that it’s the State government, not Hajela who has to tackle the law and order in the event of names of indigenous people of the State being dropped from the NRC.
The discussion was started during the Zero Hour. While the MLAs of the ruling parties were vocal enough to send a request to the apex court from the House for extension of re-verification period of names included in the NRC, the Congress and the AUIDF members reiterated that there should not be any interference in the NRC update exercise that is going on under the guidelines of the apex court. According to the ruling party members, while the names of 95 per cent people in districts sharing border with Bangladesh have been included in the NRC, around 18 per cent names of indigenous people have been dropped in the hill districts. While a section of them said that many lacunae have been detected in the NRC update, another section has even raised doubt on the role of State NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela. They say that New Delhi and Dispur have been funding the NRC update process with manpower from the State government, but Hajela has been working by keeping the government in the dark.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said: “Our appeal to the apex court is to extend the time for re-verification of names included in the NRC so that we can get an error-free NRC. Taking that in mind, this House should send an appeal to the Supreme Court of India to consider the appeal for re-verification from the government.”
BJP MLA Debananda Hazarika said: “The names of many genuine Indians have failed to make it to the NRC. On the other hand, 96 per cent names from the minority-dominated districts have been included in the NRC. It seems State NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela is working with a motive. What will the government do with the applicants, especially the indigenous ones who would fail to make it to the final NRC?”
BJP MLA Dr Numal Momin said: “As high as 18 per cent names have been dropped in hill districts against only five per cent names dropped in districts sharing border with Bangladesh. This naturally raises doubt. On what basis did Hajela tell the apex court that 27 per cent re-verification of names have already been done?”
Shiladitya Dev of the BJP said: “It looks like a one-man show. What Hajela says gets done. He doesn’t share any information with the government. If this trend continues, we doubt an error-free NRC.”
Aminul Islam of the AIUDF said: “Giving a negative impression concerning some districts even before publication of the final NRC doesn’t augur well. This is because all the names have been included after verification of the documents submitted. Such a negative impression may spell disaster in the post-NRC situation.”
Former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said: “The entire exercise is going on in accordance with the directive of the Supreme Court. It’s a sensitive issue, and any false propaganda in it will only aggravate the situation. My name also came out wrongly. I got that corrected later.”
Congress Legislature Party leader Debabrata Saikia said: “NRC update is being done in accordance with the guidelines of the apex court. We’ve nothing to oppose. We also hope to get a correct NRC. Nobody should adopt any dilly-dallying tactics on the publication of the NRC.”
Rabiram Narzary of the BPF said: “Many lacunae have come to light in the NRC update exercise. We need to see that the NRC being updated shouldn’t be a document to give Indian citizenship to foreigners.”
Nurul Huda of the Congress said: “The Supreme Court doesn’t take side. We hope to get a correct NRC.”
Patowary then said: “We’re saying that there should be re-verification – 20 per cent names in border districts and ten per cent in other districts. However, the apex court has turned down our request. Many MLAs feel that State NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela is misleading the apex court.”
Patowary said: “Hajela said that 3.8 lakh names have been dropped from the draft NRC after the hearing of claims and objections. We need to know as to why these names have been dropped. Since 96 per cent names have been included in the NRC in districts registering abnormal rise in population, this House appeals to the Supreme Court to reconsider the appeal for re-verification.”