Assam govt push for one nation, one NRC: Minister

Assam govt push for one nation, one NRC: Minister

Himanta Biswa Sarma. (DH Photo)

Assam minister and BJP's strategist in the Northeast, Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday sought an NRC with a single cut-off date across the country, while reiterating that the multi-crore exercise already carried out in the state be scrapped.

"The NRC exercise carried out in Assam under the supervision of the Supreme Court failed to fulfill the aspiration of the people of Assam. Our party have already rejected it as many ineligible persons managed to include their names while genuine citizens were left out. We urged the Centre and home minister Amit Shah that this NRC should be scrapped and the exercise should be carried out afresh along with rest of the country. There can not be two cut-off dates--one for Assam and the other for rest of the country," Sarma told reporters, minutes after Shah informed the Rajya Sabha that NRC exercise would be carried out across the country, including in Assam.

Over 19.06 lakh of the 3.29 crore total applicants were left out of the final list of the NRC, which was released on August 31, 2018 with March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date. The cut-off date was decided in the Assam Accord of 1985, which was signed between the Centre and the Assam-based organisations, who led a six-year-long anti-foreigners movement. 

Sarma, however, said the BJP-led government would not oppose if the 1971 cut-off was accepted for the pan-India NRC.

"If we have two separate cut-off dates, one person, who failed to make it to the NRC in Assam can get it done in Bengal, Kerala or some other part of the country having a different cut-off date. So we hope the Centre will take a decision regarding the fresh NRC across the country after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is passed," he said. 

The NRC exercise, which gained pace in 2015 incurred expenditure of nearly Rs15,000 crore,  saw suicides by many applicants, who either failed to make it to the list or struggled for documents to prove their or their forefathers' stay in Assam prior to 1971 and even caused much hardships to most applicants. 

When pointed out by DH reporter that a fresh NRC exercise in Assam would cause wastage of Rs 1,500 crore, Sarma said, "Money can not be bigger than the national cause."

Sarma has always maintained that Hindus and other non-Muslim migrants, who migrated to India due to "religious persecution" be granted citizenship by amending the Citizenship Act. 

All Assam Students' Union and Assam Public Works, who had earlier sought scrapping of the NRC, welcomed the move to have the exercise afresh. But Supreme Court lawyer Upamanyu Hazarika said there was not need to have the NRC exercise again in Assam.

"Only re-verification of the exisiting data and the documents will help the purpose of having a foreigner free NRC," he said. 

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