As the Assam National Register of Citizens or NRC was released today, members of the state’s ruling BJP lashed out, saying the list left out many genuine citizens, especially refugees who migrated from Bangladesh before 1971.
“The Names of many Indian citizens who migrated from Bangladesh as refugees prior to 1971 have not been included in the NRC because authorities refused to accept refugee certificates,” Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a series of tweets.
“Many names got included because of manipulation of legacy data as alleged by many,” he added.
Mr Sarma, who is among the BJP’s top leaders in Assam, had earlier said he had no faith in the NRC and didn’t think it would help remove illegal immigrants.
The NRC released on Saturday excludes over 19 lakh people, who now have to fight their case and prove they have been in Assam for decades. The government says they won’t be declared foreigners immediately and have the option of appealing to the foreigners’ Tribunals and the courts.
After the NRC, the BJP has indicated that it will bring the citizenship amendment Bill soon. Speaking to NDTV, firebrand BJP MLA Silditya Dev alleged that the NRC was part of a “conspiracy to keep Hindus out and help Muslims”. He alleged that the NRC software was bugged and the process of preparing the citizen’s list was steeped in corruption.
“People wanted error free NRC for protection of right but it didn’t happen… It seems a conspiracy to keep the Hindus out and give legitimacy to Muslim infiltrators,” Silditya Dev said.
“When the Assam accord happened it was estimated there are over one crore Bangladeshis, where have they gone now,” he questioned.
He also felt that the NRC software needed to be under scrutiny as it was managed by a private firm and the government was not involved.
“The BJP will now protect the Hindus with the citizenship bill. We will bring it soon,” Mr Dev declared.
To establish citizenship, the people of Assam have had to furnish proof of residence going back decades, before March 1971, the year in which hundreds of thousands of people left Bangladesh as it split off from Pakistan.
The Supreme Court, which has monitored the process of preparing the list, this month rejected the government’s request for more time.
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