GUWAHATI: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Sunday said the state government would ensure that the names of all citizens, including indigenous people, find a place in the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The Registrar General of India will have to take steps to ensure that no Indian citizen residing in the state, including indigenous people, faces harassment during the NRC updating process, Gogoi said in a statement here. The Registrar will have to undertake proper verification to ensure that no foreigners are able to get their names enrolled in the NRC, and the state government will extend all possible help and cooperation for a correct NRC, he further said.
The Chief Minister added that the government has been extending full cooperation so that the NRC updating process could run without any hiccups.
“There is no need for apprehension among people belonging to tea tribes (Adivasis), STs, minorities and other ethnic communities as the government will take all possible steps to ensure that their names are included in the NRC,” Gogoi had said recently.
The NRC is being updated in the state under the direction and monitoring of the Supreme Court. Irrespective of their faith, people who came to Assam from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971 will be viewed as foreigners and deported.
Gogoi said that if the Centre rejected his government’s proposal, it would file an affidavit in the Supreme Court. “If people’s names are there on the voters’ list, it is by virtue of their being Indians,” he said. Organisations in the state, particularly the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), claim that the voters’ list contains the names of lakhs of Bangladeshis. The AASU has been demanding the detection and deportation of such people.
The Congress’ include-all-voters-in-NRC stance has already drawn flak with the Opposition AGP and BJP and even groups such as the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) launching blistering attacks on the ruling party for its alleged shielding of illegal immigrants.
According to a recent Central government report, Assam’s Muslim population has the second highest growth rate in the country after Jammu & Kashmir. Many in Assam blame it on the “unabated influx” of Bangladeshis. Opposition parties allege that the Congress is trying to exploit the NRC as a last-ditch effort to do well in the Assembly elections.
The party, which has been ruling Assam under Gogoi since 2001, is battered by infighting and a depleting popularity in the wake of the BJP’s emergence as a powerhouse. The Congress saw its the worst performance in the last Parliamentary elections, in which it won just three of the 14 seats. The AASU, which led a six-year anti-foreigners agitation in the 1980s that culminated in the signing of the historic Assam Accord with the Centre, condemned the government’s move and said it would take recourse to law.
The AGP alleged the Congress was trying to protect the illegal Bangladeshis for votes.
“Now that the SC has asked the state govt to update the NRC, the Congress is trying to safegauard the migrants,” AGP leader Durgada Bodo told Express.