The NRC authorities in the state have, meanwhile, made all arrangements to publish the NRC at 10 am August 31.
Guwahati: The National Register of Citizens was considered to be an exercise that may have brought an end to the four-decade-old politics of foreigners in Assam, but just before its final publication most political parties in the state, including the ruling BJP, have started questioning its credibility, saying that it may not be error-free.
Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Friday that the purpose of updating the NRC had now become futile, and a way should be devised to exclude more people living in districts near the Bangladesh border. “We have started working in consultation with the Centre to devise a new mechanism to make Assam free from foreigners.”
The NRC authorities in the state have, meanwhile, made all arrangements to publish the NRC at 10 am August 31. Sources said the NRC will be published online, besides making the list available at more than 2,500 NRC Seva Kendra at 10 am on Saturday.
Asking people to see the NRC as a simple document, Mr Sarma said: “We lost confidence the day we came to know that only six per cent names were dropped in frontier districts like Dhubri and Goalpara, while the names of 16 per cent of residents were excluded in the tribal-dominated district of Karbi Anglong.”
He said there was no point in making it a mega-event. “The target should be to devise a mechanism to drop names in Dhubri, Goalpara and other border districts which had the domination of illegal immigrants,” said Mr Sarma.
The BJP’s apprehensions stem from the growing perception of a large number of Hindu Bengalis failing to find a place in the NRC. Though there is no official confirmation or records on these facts, state BJP leaders have rejected the NRC and threatened that the government might adopt legislative measures to correct the “anomalies” in the final NRC after it is published. While no specific measures were spelt out, it is speculated the Centre may pass the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 in Parliament.
The Congress, which also claims responsibility for initiating the NRC updation process, said the NRC had created confusion and doubts among people.
Former chief minister Tarun Gogoi said here Friday: “We sincerely want it to be a correct NRC, where only genuine Indian citizens find a place and where foreigners are excluded. But unfortunately the NRC process creates doubts about the capabilities, efficiency and commitment of the NRC authorities.”
The All Assam Students Union (AASU), which spearheaded the 1979-1985 Assam agitation against foreigners and sacrificed 855 lives, which culminated in the signing of the Assam Accord, also accused the BJP of pushing its political agenda instead of seeking the greater good of the Assamese people.
“Earlier, the BJP used to accuse the Congress of appeasing Muslims for votebank politics. Now they are doing the same thing with Hindus. We should respect the NRC process, which is being monitored by the Supreme Court, but instead of a permanent solution, the BJP wants to keep the foreigners’ issue alive,” said AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi.
Another stakeholder, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) general secretary Aminul Islam, said: “We are surprised at the statements of BJP leaders ahead of the final list. Instead of closing the foreigners issue with the publication of an error-free NRC, they want to keep it alive for electoral benefits.”
He said: “There could be minor errors, but we have full faith in the process monitored by the Supreme Court. We appeal to the public not to fall for the BJP tactics and maintain calm. Our party will give legal aid to genuine Indians left out of the final NRC.”