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NRC:BJP questions revision process, Cong promises free legal aid to left out genuine citizens

By PTI Updated: Aug 26, 2019 10:52 pm

Guwahati, Aug. 26 (PTI):  With days left for publication of the final NRC on August 31,the ruling BJP in Assam on Monday attacked state coordinator Prateek Hajela, claiming he was undertaking the updation exercise in consultation with “just 2-3 organisations” which could lead to inclusion of foreigners in the list.

The opposition Congress, on its part, announced that it will provide free legal aid to genuine Indian citizens, whose names do not figure in the final National Register of Citizens.

Assam Pradesh Congress Committee president Ripun Bora told reporters that his party will ensure that no injustice is done to the genuine Indian citizens.

The final NRC list, which will identify bona fide citizens of Assam, is set to be published on August 31. The exercise of updating the NRC, unique to Assam, is being conducted under the supervision of the Supreme Court.

Addressing a press meet here, BJP state president Ranjit Dass said people have told his party members that their names had appeared in the first list, published in 2017, but was removed from the “final draft” in July last year.

“NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela had been carrying out the revision work based on his own opinion and those of two to three organisations, after the Supreme Court asked Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal not to interfere in the process,” Dass claimed.

The state BJP chief, however, did not name the organizations he was referring to.

In such a situation, it is difficult for Assam to come up with an error-free register, he said.

“We have received feedback. Many have told us their names appeared in the first NRC list, but went missing from the final draft. These people had to appear several times in different offices for re-verification of their documents.

“Also, there are reports that people who have been declared ‘foreigners’ were being engaged for the NRC citizenship verification work,” he explained.

Dass claimed that names of descendants of freedom fighters and Assam agitation martyrs were excluded during the verification process.

“It seems we will get an NRC which will include the names of illegal foreigners and exclude genuine Indian citizens,” the state BJP chief said.

Appreciating the Centre’s decision to extend the deadline to 120 from 60 days for filing appeals in the Foreigners Tribunals, the BJP leader said around 40 lakh workers of saffron party have been directed to assist the ones approaching the district legal cells.

“We will not allow the exclusion of any genuine Indian citizen, be it Hindu, Muslim, Christian or of any other religion, from the NRC. The 1200-crore exercise will not be of any worth if even one genuine citizen’s name gets excluded from the register,” he asserted.

Claiming that the saffron party was not satisfied with the revision process, Dass urged the Centre and the state government to take action against “doubtful” citizens only after a proper investigation.

Assam is the only state to have a National Register of Citizens (NRC). The NRC was first prepared in 1951 under the purview of the Census Act, 1948.

In July last year, 40,07,707 people out of a total 3,29,91,384 applicants were excluded from the final draft of the NRC. An additional 1,02,462 persons were included in the list of excluded persons in June, taking the total ineligible persons to 41,10,169.

State Congress president also held a press meet and asserted “The Congress legal cell will provide help free of cost to those genuine Indian citizens whose names are missing from the NRC list to ensure that no injustice is done to them”.

It was the Congress that had begun the NRC process in the state to ensure that all genuine Indian citizens are provided protection and illegal foreigners were detected and did not find a place in the National Register of Citizens, Bora, a Rajya Sabha member, said.

Bora welcomed Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s statement that anybody creating law and order problem in the state would be arrested, but added “he should begin with his own party MLA Shiladitya Dev, who has been making provocative statements related to NRC for long”.

“If the Chief Minister is serious about maintaining peace and harmony in the state, he should ensure that the MLA from Hojai is arrested as he been making communal statements continuously and creating fear in the minds of people”, the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee chief asserted.

He further alleged that the BJP government at the centre and the state have not been “sincere about protecting the interests of the genuine Indian citizens leading to a fear psychosis in their minds”.

Bora appealed to the people of the state to maintain peace and calm as the Congress will ensure that no genuine citizens of the country were left out of the NRC.

10 foreigners released on bail ahead of final NRC list 

Ahead of the publication of final NRC list in Assam, ten persons declared foreigners have been released on bail from a detention camp in Goalpara district, a police official said here Monday.

The ten have been released as per a Supreme Court direction that those declared foreigners and are under detention for more than three years should be released on bail, he said.

The ten persons, including a woman, have been granted bail by the Foreigners Tribunal for a surety bond of Rs two lakh each and their biometric details, district additional superintendent of police Amitabh Basumotary said.

Their conditional release began on August 9 and they were allowed to leave the camp which is located inside Goalpara district jail, Basumotary said.

The final National Register of Citizens list, which will identify bonafide citizens of Assam, is set to be published on August 31.

Of the ten granted bail nine are from Goalpara district and one from neighbouring Chirang district. They are aged between 39 and 69 years.

The Supreme Court, which is monitoring the updation of the NRC, had during the hearing of a PIL last month on detained foreigners had set five conditions – deposit of a bond with two sureties of Rs 1 lakh each from an Indian citizen, a verifiable address of stay after the person’s release from the detention centre and reporting once every week to the police station specified by the home and political department. The other two conditions are biometrics of the person’s iris (if possible) and fingerprints of all 10 fingers and photos.

Assam has six detention centres inside district jails in Goalpara, Kokrajhar, Tezpur, Dibrugarh, Jorhat and Silchar for persons declared foreigners by Foreigners Tribunals if they failed to prove that they or their forefathers lived in Assam before March 24, 1971 – the cut-off date as per the Assam Accord, 1985, to determine illegal foreigners.

By PTI Updated: Aug 26, 2019 10:52:41 pm