Sonowal hits out at opponents of NRC for spreading 'canards'

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today hit out at opponents of the NRC for "spreading negative propaganda" saying the people of the state have stood strongly behind the move to prepare an error-free list of Indian citizens.

Citing the peaceful celebration of Independence Day across Assam, which has often witnessed violence during celebrations of national events in the past, he said despite continuous "canards" and "attempts to instigate people" in the name of the draft NRC, the state remained peaceful since July 30.

"The Independence Day was celebrated peacefully across the state. There has been no violence since the publication of the draft NRC despite provocation, negative propoganda and canards," he told PTI.

The draft National Register of Citizens (NRC), a Supreme Court-monitored list of Assam's citizens, was published on July 30.

There have been comments by opposition parties and media discussions which were critical to the decision to update the NRC, an Assam specific move to identify illegal immigrants.

"People of all caste and creed remained calm despite attempts to instigate people. We are thankful to everyone," he said.

The BJP chief minister said when he assumed charge in 2016, he had promised to ensure an illegal immigrants-free Assam and the draft NRC was a significant step in this direction.

Sonowal also said that the state government was committed to ensure that no genuine Indian is left out of the final NRC.

"At the same time, we want that no illegal immigrant is included in the final NRC," he said.

Over 2.89 crore people were found to be eligible for inclusion in the draft NRC out of a total 3.29 crore applicants. Around 40.07 lakh applicants, however, did not find a place in the document.

The claims and objections to the draft NRC will start from August 28 before the final list is out as per the directive of the apex court.

Assam, which has witnessed influx of people from neighbouring Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC, which was first prepared in 1951.

The current NRC is being updated with March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date to include names of genuine Indian citizens.