Pan-India draft call

Pan-India draft call

The tea-rich state of Assam has always been the centre of social and communal tensions with locals campaigning against illegal immigrants, a fight that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist-led government has championed. My own trepidation is that if thousands of people deemed to be "stateless" can be kept like this, what's going to happen when its millions?

Claiming that the draft NRC is completely "impartial", the Home Minister had assured the residents whose names were not included that they do not need to panic over the same as they will get an opportunity to prove their Indian citizenship.

Thousands of federal security forces have reportedly been deployed to Assam to prevent anticipated unrest over the draft list.

The tea-rich state of Assam has always been the centre of social and communal tensions with locals campaigning against illegal immigrants, a fight that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist-led Government has championed.

Earlier, the Bangladesh government had accepted the identity of these immigrants as Bangladeshi nationals.

Guwahati: Assam governor Jagdish Mukhi on Monday said a pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC) was a must as it would allow every state to know who are its citizens and who are not.

India's opposition parties have taken up the issue, with West Bengal's Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleging that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is polarizing Indian society.

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The court said the draft list can not be a basis for any action against people not in it. "No genuine Indian citizen should have any fear", said Sailesh.

While the Congress demanded that the government tread cautiously on the issue, the Trinamool Congress sought complete withdrawal of the NRC, alleging that Indian citizens have also been left out of the final draft. Many Muslim residents angrily reject the charge of being illegal, saying that not only they, but their grandparents, were born in Assam and they know of no other place.

The deputy commissioners and superintendents of police were asked to keep a close watch on the development in close coordination with their counterparts in Assam, state additional chief secretary (home) Peter Ingty told PTI.

The NRC, first published after the 1951 Census, is now being updated keeping 24 March, 1971, as the cut-off date, to identify those who immigrated to Assam illegally from what is now Bangladesh. Scores of Bengali-speaking people also migrated to Assam from then-East Pakistan after the 1947 partition of the Indian subcontinent.

Ingty said there was no untoward incident was reported so far and the state government had taken precautionary measures to prevent any breakdown of law and order, especially in the districts bordering Assam. It promised that all "illegal Bangladeshis" would be driven out of the state. "The Centre wants to state that this process has reached the draft stage today and there is no question of people being sent to the foreigners' tribunal or detention centre". He promised that no citizen will be deprived of their rights. The definitive list is to be finalised in December. NRC chief Prateek Hajela, whose office has processed 66 million documents and spent almost $180 million in the whole NRC process, declined comment on the religion of people who would be removed from the register.

Following an outcry from rights groups over possible harassment of Muslims in Assam, Interior Minister Rajnath Singh said that the NRC exercise was being carried out in an impartial and transparent manner.

But not everybody is convinced with the government's assurances.

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