NRC not to solve foreigner problem: Himanta Biswa Sarma

NRC not to solve foreigner problem: Himanta Biswa Sarma

Himanta Biswa Sarma

Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday hinted that the state government would not implement the updated NRC and said that BJP government was working on "new measures" to solve the state's vexed foreigner problem.

"We had given up hope the day the draft list of the NRC excluded only 6% of applicants in districts like Dhubri and South Salmara and 16% in Karbi Anglong district, having a maximum number of indigenous people. The NRC will not solve our foreigner problem and the Centre and Assam government is mulling new measures to address the issue," Sarma, also BJP's top strategist in the Northeast, said hours before the release of the final list of updated NRC.

Dhubri and South Salmara are two Muslim majority districts sharing a border with Bangladesh. It is suspected that the two districts have the maximum number of illegal migrants.

"We don't hope anything from the NRC. Our only concern now is to maintain law and order in the state after the publication of the NRC list. I want to appeal to people of all religion not to panic even after their names are dropped from the NRC. All those excluded can move the Foreigner Tribunals and challenge their exclusion within 120 days," Sarma said.

Although Sarma did not spell out the measures being mulled, sources within the BJP said that he was hinting at bringing the Citizenship (Amendment) bill again to allow the Hindus and other non-Muslim migrants to apply for citizenship, as the BJP promised before the Lok Sabha elections.

The BJP could not table the bill in Rajya Sabha as it did not have numbers before the elections.

"Passing of the bill to scrap Article 370 and the one to pass the Triple Talaq bill proves that we have managed the numbers in the Rajya Sabha now," one of them said.

BJP's state president Ranjeet Kumar Dass had earlier spoke almost on the same line and alleged that a section of NRC officials included many illegal migrants in the NRC with fake documents. 

Sources said that the BJP was worried as names of many Hind Bengalis, its vote bank, would not figure in the final NRC list.

The BJP's stand on NRC changed after the Supreme Court rejected government's petition in June that sought re-verification of 20% applicants in the districts bordering Bangladesh and 10% in other districts.

Soon after the publication of the draft NRC, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had said that the NRC would be an important document to accomplish the government's target to make Assam a foreigner free state.

On Friday, Sonowal urged people to maintain peace in the state and assured that his government will take care of the cause of those excluded and take care that no one faced "unnecessary harassment".