BJP's 'flip-flop' over NRC exercise draws flak in Assam

BJP's 'flip-flop' over NRC exercise draws flak in Assam

Officials check the documents submitted by people, ahead of the release of the final draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC), at an NRC Seva Kendra in Guwahati. PTI file photo

The BJP's doubt about an error-free National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has drawn flak with many calling it a part of the ruling party's "ploy" to offer citizenship to Hindu migrants only.

"When the draft NRC was published on July 31 last year, the BJP and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal called it a document to make Assam a foreigner-free state. But now they are blaming NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela and a section of officers for the inclusion of foreigners in the list. They are now enacting a drama to assuage the sentiments of the indigenous people," the Supreme Court lawyer, Upamanyu Hazarika, said on Wednesday.

Questioning the quality of NRC enumeration, president of BJP's Assam unit Ranjeet Kumar Das said here on Monday that the BJP would press for legislation or notification to tackle the post-NRC situation.

He said a section of officials were trying to include foreigners with fake documents and doubted that many Indian citizens could also be dropped from the final NRC slated for release on August 31.

Sources within the party said the ruling party was worried as a large number of Hindu Bengalis are likely to be dropped from the final NRC list. So it is trying to nullify the NRC and would bring the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill again to grant citizenship to Hindus, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and Sikhs as they promised before the Lok Sabha polls. The BJP tried to pass the bill before the Lok Sabha polls but did not go ahead as it did not have numbers in the Rajya Sabha.

The final list of NRC is being updated in Assam with March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date to solve the long foreigner problem by segregating the citizens from the illegal migrants. The cut-off date was decided in 1985 following the six-year-long anti-foreigners movement by the state's majority indigenous population.

Over 40.07 lakh applicants did not find a place in the draft NRC, which was released on July 31 last year. They were allowed to submit their claims and final NRC would release their names and those among 1.20 lakh people who were also dropped later.

The All Assam Students' Union, which led the anti-foreigners movement, said BJP's doubt over the NRC confused the common people about iits intent and could add to the tension in the minds of the minorities.
Former chief minister Tarun Gogoi asked why the ruling party could not stop the government officials from including foreigners in the NRC.