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Assam urges Centre to reject NRC when citizenship register is announced

'The only thing we are asking for is that Assam should be a part of one national policy,' says Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma

Press Trust of India  |  Guwahati 

BJP's Himanta Biswa Sarma. Photo: Wikipedia
BJP's Himanta Biswa Sarma. Photo: Wikipedia

On the day Union Home minister announced a country-wide NRC, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the state government has requested the Centre to reject the final updated Register of Citizens in the state.

Addressing a press conference here, the senior BJP leader said there were many flaws in the updated NRC, which was published on August 31 this year, as the mammoth exercise was carried out "unilaterally" by the then NRC State Coordinator Prateek Hajela.

He said since there was no scope to amend it, the state government as well as the ruling BJP have urged the centre to "dismiss" the NRC in its current form.

"The Assam government has not accepted the NRC. There were ineligible people who were included, while scores of genuine Indian citizens were excluded. The government of Assam and BJP have requested the home minister to reject this NRC... There is no scope to amend this," Sarma, also the convener of the BJP-led North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), added.

He, however, clarified that no written communication has been sent to the Centre on the issue.

"In the political sphere, there is no written document. Also, it (the updation exercise) was monitored directly by the Supreme Court. We have discussed with the home minister and shared our feelings," Sarma said.

Welcoming Shah's statement in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that the NRC process will be carried out across India, he said the state government is happy that the Centre has "listened to their heart" and that the exercise will begin after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill has been passed.

The bill that seeks to grant Indian citizenship to refugee Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, who have fled their countries due to religious persecution, is expected to be introduced in Parliament in the ongoing session.

The Assam government favoured one NRC with one cut-off date for the entire country, Sarma added.

"If the cut-off year is 1971, then it should be the same for all states... We are not asking to scrap the Assam Accord. The only thing we are asking for is that Assam should be a part of one policy. There should not be anything special for Assam," he said.

Strongly criticising the previous NRC State Coordinator Prateek Hajela, the minister alleged that the entire exercise was carried out "unilaterally" keeping the state government "aside".

"But the entire nation thinks that the NRC was updated by the Assam government. We are bearing the brunt (of criticism) because of one individual. We are concerned with the flaws in the system. The way one individual did the NRC update, justice was not done to any quarter.

"The way the state coordinator ran the show...there are many stories and these will be revealed soon. The way Hajela ran the show under a different ecosystem, it has created a multiple layer of questions. As a public representative, we are unable to answer them now," Sarma said.

Hajela, an IAS officer, has since been transferred to his home state Madhya Pradesh on the direction of the Supreme Court under whose supervision the NRC was updated.

An Assam Civil Service officer Hitesh Dev Sarma has been appointed in his place.

The Assam minister said the state government will provide legal aid to genuine Indian citizens contesting their exclusion from the NRC in Foreigners Tribunals.

Over 19 lakh people were excluded from the final NRC, and the Assam government and several political parties have claimed many of them were bonafide Indian citizens.

First Published: Wed, November 20 2019. 18:25 IST