'Total Failure of Govt': Former Assam CM Tarun Gogoi Writes to Chief Justice about 'Resentment' over NRC
The senior Congress leader called upon the Chief Justice of India, “to see that genuine Indian citizens are not deprived of their dignity and right to life and liberty as enshrined in the Indian Constitution.”
File photo of former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi. (PTI)
Guwahati: Former Assam chief minister and veteran Congress leader Tarun Gogoi has written to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi about the “resentment expressed in every nook and corner of the state” following the publication of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC).
In his letter, Gogoi has stated that the exclusion of over 19 lakh people "belonging to all communities and religion” has created a “lot of confusion and uncertainty among them”. The former CM also said that after the publication of the complete draft NRC that excluded over 40 lakh people, "it was expected of the NRC authority to be more cautious and the final NRC list would be error-free", but the opposite has happened.
“I am also convinced that the NRC authority headed by Prateek Hajela, IAS, State Coordinator, has not discharged his duty and responsibility efficiently and effectively as per your direction although more than 50,000 government officials were engaged, and approximately Rs 1,200 crore was spent along with time and energy at the cost of developmental works of the state,” said Gogoi in the letter dated September 5, 2019.
The senior Congress leader, who has been claiming credit for initiating the NRC updating exercise during his tenure, had appointed Hajela as the State NRC Coordinator, following a 2013 Supreme Court order for updating the citizenship roll.
While referring to statements of state ministers and BJP leaders, Gogoi said, “… the most surprising fact is the stand of the state government (that) is contrary to the Government of India as expressed by Himanta Biswa Sarma, Minister Finance, Health etc and also by the ruling party state president Ranjit Das, rejecting the final list and exposing its anomalies.”
“Moreover, the Central government spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, Raveesh Kumar, has made the statement that the NRC update was statutory, transparent and a legal process, mandated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and court-monitored exercise,” he added.
The Congress leader termed the exercise as ‘a total failure of the Government of India’, while pointing out that the Assam government might have also blamed the Supreme Court for its ‘interference’ in the updating exercise.
“The State government, also, if I am not wrong, is trying to blame the Supreme Court as they have been making allegations that they had their limitations due to interference of the Supreme Court while the Supreme Court was not the implementing authority, but the fact is that the Govt of India was the implementing authority of the NRC,” Gogoi wrote.
“Now the question arises about the fate of lakhs of people who were left out of the NRC final list and were asked to move to the Foreigner’s Tribunal to prove their citizenship, and undergo all sorts of difficulties and hardship by dragging them to the courts not because of their faults, but due to the callousness and inefficiency of the NRC implementing authority,” he said.
The former Assam CM also drew reference to “army, police personnel, family members of freedom fighters, MLAs, ex-MLAs and family members of former president of India late Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, and thousands of examples of people who have all the documents, including Indian passports,” being left out of the list.
Gogoi also raised concern about people being asked to go to Foreigner’s Tribunal when the government has already announced that those excluded are not ‘foreigners’ or ‘suspected foreigners’.
“Another question arises about the fate of these people whose names were enlisted in the Voter List of 2019 under which the Lok Sabha elections were held in the country, including Assam, and the voter list of 2019 was prepared by linking of 1966 voter list where their names were included as Indian citizens. Since the list was prepared by the Election Commission of India, a constitutional body, how these people could be excluded from the NRC,” he wrote.
The Congress veteran called upon the Chief Justice, being the head of the Supreme Court, “to see that genuine Indian citizens are not deprived of their dignity and right to life and liberty as enshrined in the Indian Constitution.”
“The present situation is undoubtedly grave and unprecedented. In this situation, the people of Assam are looking forward to your kind intervention by reviewing the whole issue so that justice is given to them,” Gogoi said.
A total of 3,11,21,004 people were found eligible for inclusion in the final NRC and 19,06,657 were left out when the supplementary list of inclusion and exclusion status of applicants was published on August 31, 2019.
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