NRC exercise should be done afresh: Assam CM 

Sarma's statement is seen as significant given the fact that the BJP-led government in Assam had earlier moved the Supreme Court
Last Updated 27 March 2022, 12:36 IST

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday said the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam should be carried out afresh and the one already done should be reviewed.

"We are saying that NRC should be done again. We are in talks with organisations like All Assam Students' Union also," Sarma told reporters in Guwahati after a function organised for interaction with youths.

Sarma's statement is seen as significant given the fact that the BJP-led government in Assam had earlier moved the Supreme Court with a plea for re-verification of 20% applications in the districts bordering Bangladesh and 10% in the rest of the districts.

The NRC 1951 was updated with March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date to detect "foreigners," who had illegally infiltrated into Assam from neighbouring Bangladesh and solve the state's long foreigner problem. The cut-off for the NRC exercise was based on the Assam Accord of 1985, which was the culmination of the Assam Agitation (1979-1985) led by AASU.

Although an updated list of the NRC was released by the Register General of India in 2019, leaving out 19.06 lakh applicants, the Assam government refused to accept the list saying it was not properly done. Sarma was the first senior leader in BJP who claimed that the list contained many foreigners and many genuine Indian citizens were left out.

Interestingly, BJP had welcomed the draft list of the NRC, released in July 2018 which excluded over 40 lakh people. Leaders within BJP said the party took a different stand after the final list was released as more Hindus were left out than the Muslims from the final list.

The NRC was updated in Assam under the supervision of the Supreme Court bench headed by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. Over Rs. 1,500 crores have already been spent on exercise.

Soon after the BJP government led by Himanta Biswa Sarma took oath in May 2021, the new coordinator of the NRC, Hitesh Dev Sarma submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court seeking comprehensive re-verification of the NRC exercise claiming that serious errors have been detected in the process.

The fate over the citizenship of 19.06 lakh people across Assam is hanging in balance as the Supreme Court is yet to decide on several petitions that sought re-verification of the NRC list.

Replying to questions from youths on Sunday regarding foreigners and illegal migration issues, the CM said Assam had witnessed largescale migration from neighbouring Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan) since the Partition. This, he said, changed the demography of the state and resulted in a threat to the identity of the indigenous Assamese people.

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(Published 27 March 2022, 12:36 IST)

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