New Delhi: Hours after the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) was out on Saturday, Assam Finance Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) functionary Himanta Biswa Sarma in an exclusive interview to News18 said the updating process was after all not a futile exercise. Over 19 lakh applicants have failed to make it to the updated NRC, which validates bonafide Indian citizens of Assam.
“This has been a mixed bag for us. People who came in post-1971 as refugees will face problems… We sympathise with them, but there are many who have manipulated the NRC process and we will look into it,” he said.
Sarma, who is also the convener of the North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), the NDA’s version in the northeast, has 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.”
#NRCAssamI reiterate that as requested by Central and State governments at least 20% reverification (bordering districts) and 10% re-verification(remaining districts) should be allowed by Honble Apex court for a correct and fair NRC. 2/2— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) August 31, 2019
Regarding arrests over fake documents, Sarma said, “The NRC coordinator has followed the legacy data process to counter fake documentation… We have even arrested a few people for faking documents, but that does not mean the entire exercise needs a re-visit.”
When asked about the change in demography over the years, Sarma said, “There is no myth… If you go through the religious census data, you would see that there has been a significant shift in the demography… We have managed to trace some illegal immigrants and we are looking to refine the search and the process will go on till every indigenous people of Assam will find their place... We have traced 14-15 lakh foreigners... This has been proved... We are not taking cognizance of what Mamata Banerjee has to say. Illegal foreigners are her vote bank.”
Hours ago, the West Bengal CM and Trinamool Congress supremo said the "NRC fiasco" had exposed all those who tried to take political mileage out of it. “My heart goes out to all those, especially the large number of Bengali speaking brothers and sisters, who are made to suffer because of this botched-up process,” she added.
The NRC fiasco has exposed all those who tried to take political mileage out of it. They have a lot to answer to the nation. This is what happens when an act is guided by an ulterior motive rather than the good of the society and the larger interest of the nation.(1/2)— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) August 31, 2019
Regarding violation of human rights, the senior BJP leader assured nothing of that sort would happen and nobody was being detained. “We have Aadhaar data so many people… No human rights will be violated… We will approach Bangladesh and ask them to take their people back, but during that time we will not allow them to vote and give them certain amenities.”
Further, he said, “The government of Bangladesh is a friend to India and they are cooperating with us… They are frequently taking back their people when we have presented cases of illegal immigration. The number has not been high, but now we will have a process to identify them.”
“Just because people’s name don’t appear in the NRC doesn’t mean that they will be called foreigners and sent to Bangladesh. There is a legal process in place which will help them with their case, but till then, they will not be allowed to take part in the political process of the country.”
Stating that there was no panic in Assam, Sarma said there were many who were in a celebratory mood. “This news about panic is being created by the so-called secular people. There is no panic here. All nationalists will speak in one voice. If Pakistan attacks us tomorrow, then we will all stand against them… The RSS and BJP are nationalist groups and we are speaking in one voice on the matter.”