Amid the ongoing row over the National Register of Citizens (NRC), former Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta today urged the government to prepare a similar list for the residents of West Bengal to identify genuine Indians, saying the state was also "affected by illegal immigration" from Bangladesh.
He also said the ongoing update of the NRC in Assam should be foolproof and no Indians should be left out and no illegal immigrants included in the final list of Assam's residents.
"We want the NRC in all states. First, we want an NRC in West Bengal which is also affected by illegal immigration from Bangladesh as language and culture of West Bengal and Bangladesh are same," he told a press conference here.
Mahanta, a signatory of the 1985 Assam Accord which provides for identification and deportation of illegal immigrants from the state, said even the local residents of West Bengal are in favour of an NRC in the state.
"An NRC is an urgent necessity for West Bengal. The central government should appoint a good nodal officer of the NRC in West Bengal and start the exercise," he said.
Mahanta's comments came days after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the NRC exercise in Assam was done with a "political motive" to divide people and it would lead to "bloodbath" and a "civil war" in the country.
The NRC, a massive Supreme Court-monitored exercise to identify genuine Indians living in Assam excluded over 40 lakh people from the draft list published on July 30, creating a huge political controversy.
Mahanta, whose party AGP is part of the ruling alliance in Assam, also opposed the move to amend the six-decade-old Citizenship Act, seeking to grant citizenship to people from minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
"We appeal to the central government not to bring the citizenship amendment bill as it would negate the Assam Accord and allow citizenship to illegal immigrants," he said.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act.
Among others, the amendment bill seeks to grant citizenship to people from minority communities -- Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians -- from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12 even if they do not possess any proper document.
A large section of people and organisations in the northeast have opposed the bill, saying it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of their religion.
The Bill is now under consideration of a joint committee of Parliament.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)