GUWAHATI: Even as over 19 lakh people in Assam are faced with an uncertain future after being left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Union Home Minister Amit Shah said no “illegal migrant” would be allowed to stay in India.
“People have raised various questions on the NRC. Let me assert not a single illegal migrant will be allowed to stay in the country. This is our commitment,” Shah said in his speech at the 68th plenary session of the North Eastern Council here on Sunday.
His comment assumes significance given the fate of those left out of the NRC. If they continue to remain excluded from the NRC even after filing appeals in the Foreigners’ Tribunals and then going to court, they have to be deported but Bangladesh has already said the NRC is an internal matter of India.
Shah said the NRC was updated in a time-bound manner. A total of 3,30,27,661 people had applied for inclusion in the NRC and 3,11,21,004 of them made it to the list. The number of excluded was 19,06,657. They have to first move the tribunals and if they do not get relief there, they can challenge their exclusion in the Gauhati High Court and then in the Supreme Court.
Shah assured that the Centre would not touch Article 371 in the Northeast. The land, among others, in Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh is protected under Article 371.
“After the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, people in the Northeast were misinformed that Article 371 would also be scrapped by the Centre,” the Home Minister said, adding, “In a democracy every party has the right to criticise the scrapping of Article 370 but this was a ploy to give a message to the Northeast that Article 371 will also go”.
He said those who did not want the Northeast to be peaceful and on a par with the mainstream in respect of development, they were trying to create hurdles.
Stating that Article 370 was a temporary provision, he said there was a vast difference between Article 370 and Article 371 which grants special provisions in the Northeast.
"I clarified it in the Parliament and I am saying it again today that the Centre will not touch Article 371,” Shah said.
He urged the states in the Northeast to resolve inter-state border disputes saying when the Centre could resolve land disputes with Bangladesh, there was no reason why the north-eastern states would not be able to do that.
Shah also said that the Centre would hold talks with militant outfits if they abjured the path of violence but go hard at those which would continue to wield the gun.