New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders from Assam will meet Home Minister Amit Shah in Guwahati next week demanding legislative action to protect bonafide citizens whose names did not figure in the final updated list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
“Our state unit has decided to appeal to the government of India as well as the national body of the BJP to take some legislative action, pass an Act or bring an amendment in the Constitution to protect the indigenous people of Assam who have been excluded from the NRC,” state BJP chief Ranjit Das told News18.
"Our party's national president and Home Minister Amit Shah will visit Guwahati on September 8 and 9. During his two-day visit, the demand for legislative action or amendment to the Constitution will be put forth," he added.
Aiming guns at the NRC State Coordinator, Prateek Hajela, for the poor implementation of the exercise, Das said, “Several people submitted the refugee certificate or the migration certificate for the NRC. The Supreme Court had accepted these documents for submission. But, the NRC State Coordinator instructed disbursing officers not to accept them. He said there is no system to authenticate when, where and how these documents were issued."
However, Das also alleged irregularities in the NRC process saying that applicants with fake documents have also made it to the NRC — at the cost of genuine citizens. “Some people have submitted their birth certificates for the NRC. In such cases, the local government officers did not cross-check and verify the serial numbers of these documents. In cases of fake documents, the serial numbers will not match. We urge the government to verify all the submissions. To protect the indigenous Assamese people, some legislation should be brought by Parliament or the Assembly," he said.
Though the home minister will be in Guwahati to attend meetings of the North East Council (NEC) and the North East Development Authority (NEDA), his visit assumes significance in the wake of the recent release of the final NRC list from which over 19 lakh applicants have been excluded. A total of 3,30,27,661 people had applied to be included in the NRC. Of them, 3,11,21,004 people have made their way to the list that seeks to validate bonafide Indian citizens of Assam.
The state BJP has turned around on its position for the citizenship exercise with senior leader and the party’s main man in the northeast Himanta Biswa Sarma rejecting the list. “A small portion of Hindu migrants have been left out of the list. They had their own refugee certificates, but that was not taken into account. Anyway, the BJP is committed to passing the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the next Parliament session,” he told NDTV in an interview.
Sarma has also demanded that the Supreme Court allow reverification of at least 20 per cent of people included in the list in districts bordering Bangladesh and 10 per cent in the rest of Assam. He said, “The SC has reposed its trust on the NRC coordination team… The Union and state governments have told the apex court that some re-verification is required.”
While the BJP's stand on the NRC narrative is no surprise, its new opposition on the issue is. Ahead of the recently held Lok Sabha elections, several party leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah, had dedicatedly pushed for a nationwide NRC during campaigns. Though the state unit continues to support the NRC as stated in its manifesto, party leaders are divided on the impact the final list could have on the electorate because of a flawed implementation process.
“It is the moral responsibility of the BJP to fulfil its promise of the NRC as mentioned in our manifesto. We initially supported the exercise because the government of the India had submitted a plea to the Supreme Court to accept refugee or migration certificates as proof of citizenship. However, after the completion of the exercise, we get to know that the certificates were not accepted,” Das said.