GUWAHATI: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said the state government had been in touch with the Centre to give relief to nearly 27 lakh people who have been unable to acquire Aadhaar cards after their biometrics were frozen during the updation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state.
Speaking in the Assembly, Sarma agreed with Congress MLA Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha that the people in question were facing a lot of hardships.
“I can only say that we are slowly taking this matter toward solution. I am hopeful it will be resolved at the earliest,” the CM said.
He said when NRC was at the drafting stage, the state government had collected biometrics of the people at the direction of the Supreme Court. Subsequently, he added, the court issued a direction on August 13, 2019 for the preservation of the biometric data.
Sarma said people, who made it to NRC list, would get back their Aadhar cards and those, who were left out, would get it if the judgements by the foreigners’ tribunals (FTs) go in their favour. People left out will be required to challenge their exclusion in the FTs.
“In the next step, the Registrar General of India had to notify the NRC but it has not been notified so far. While one process of NRC is complete, the final process involving the order of the President is awaited,” the CM said.
Stating that another directive was on the safety of data, he said the state government informed the Centre about how the state could protect data with its technology. Both matters are under Government of India’s consideration, he said.
“Meanwhile, we had constituted a cabinet committee. After holding deliberations with groups and organisations, it suggested that government can give Aadhar cards to 17 lakh people who made it to NRC. When the matter reached the Supreme Court, it assigned the Centre to give the Aadhar cards. The Centre issued an office memorandum but after that, I have noticed people have not been benefitted the way they should have,” Sarma said.
To a query from Congress legislator Zakir Hussain Sikdar, the CM said nobody was facing any problem in availing the benefits of the schemes of state government.
“But in matters pertaining to central government, one has to provide the Aadhar number. That’s the reason why some people are still facing problems. We could not give them even the free rice. If there are directions from the Supreme Court, we cannot do anything even if we are willing. That’s why, I took it up informally with Government of India,” he said.
“I now feel the matter might head toward a solution soon. I too am sensitive and sympathetic on the issue. We are trying. Sometimes, you don’t succeed despite an effort. This is one of those instances,” he added.