Opposition Congress in Assam slammed the statement of Union Home Minister Amit Shah that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) update process will be carried out afresh in the state concurrently with the rest of India and termed it as part of its agenda to polarise the society on religious lines.
“Not even three months have elapsed since the final updated NRC was published in Assam under the supervision of the Supreme Court and, significantly, the Apex Court has accepted the validity of the final NRC. Therefore, Amit Shah’s announcement about a fresh NRC update in Assam indicates that the Modi government is unwilling to accept the decision of the apex Court,” said Leader of Opposition in Assam Legislative Assembly, Debabrata Saikia on Wednesday.
He said that the NRC was updated in Assam by engaging over 50,000 employees of the state government and spending over Rs 1200 crore of tax-payers’ money. Around 3.29 crore inhabitants of Assam went through a great deal of trouble to collect documentation and participate in the process, he said.
“Some people had to sell livestock and even property in order to prove their citizenship. Yet others had to travel up to 600 kms to previously unseen places to attend NRC hearings in the final phase. A few persons lost their lives during such journeys, ” Saikia pointed out.
He said that certain inferences flow naturally from the Modi government’s decision to carry out a fresh NRC update process in Assam. “First, the Modi government wants to carry out the NRC update process without supervision of the Supreme Court so that a section of genuine citizens from the religious minority community can be excluded and a section of illegal migrants from the linguistic minority community can be inducted in the NRC,” he said.
“Second, the BJP wants to keep the NRC issue simmering in order to further its agenda of polarisation along religious lines, ” he said.
“Thirdly, in view of the Supreme Court having more or less resolved the Ram Janambhumi dispute, the BJP wants to use the nation-wide NRC as its new weapon for the political polarisation, ” he said.
Saikia appealed to the Supreme Court not to allow the Modi government to carry out another NRC update exercise in Assam only a brief interval after completion of a lengthy process for the same purpose.
Otherwise, he said, over three crore residents of Assam will face renewed harassment in the name of proving their citizenship.
He said that the Supreme Court should also consider the fact that execution of development work suffered terribly in Assam over the last six years or so as a result of over 50,000 state government employees being deputed to carry out NRC-related work.
“Assam and its people cannot afford another such phase. I would also like to urge the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) to strongly oppose the latest move of the Modi government. The NRC has been updated on the basis of the cut-off deadline of 1971 stipulated in the Assam Accord of 1985, to which the AASU was a signatory. If the main provision of this Accord is thrown to the winds by the Modi government, then the six-year-long Assam Movement and the martyrdom of 855 persons will become meaningless, “he added.