The Assam government has released an additional exclusion list for the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) on June 26, 2019. As many as 1,02,462 names are found on the additional list. The office of the NRC Coordinator found them to be ineligible for three reasons. I find the reasons quite unjustified.
According to the office, “People found to be declared foreigners or doubtful (D) voters or with cases pending at Foreigners’ Tribunals revealed after publication of the draft NRC are in the additional exclusion list.” However, their names were included in the 2nd final draft released July 30, 2018. On the other, over 40 lakh residents are not included in the final draft.
How strange it is! People, who have been residing in Assam for decades, are being declared foreigners. As per the Indian Nationality Law, a doubtful (D) voter does not mean a foreigner. Moreover, in May this year, the Supreme Court said that illegal foreigners in Assam, who have completed more than three years in detention, may be released after they provide bio-metric details in a secure database.
The NRC clears the names of those citizens who have been residing in Assam before March 25, 1971. The Union Home Minister once said while introducing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, “They (illegal migrants) have no place to go to, except India”. Then, what about the people who have been residing in Assam after March 25, 1971? As stated by the “Indian Nationality Law”, nobody can prove them as illegal migrants since Indian citizenship can be acquired as a person of Indian origin who has been a resident in India for seven years before producing application for registration under section 5(1) of the Citizenship Act 1955, one whose either parent was born in undivided India and is resident of India for seven years and one who is married to an Indian and is a resident for seven years.
Interestingly, the NRC process has been rolled out only in Assam. Certainly, the process of NRC update in Assam is an inconsistent practice and is reasonably unfounded. Applicants whose names have already been cleared in the complete draft NRC which was released on July 30 last year, have to again prove their citizenship. This is truly a matter of disgrace for the country.
The NRC verification process should have been carried out in an impartial manner by non-Assam resident officers so that local political factors including that of religious polarisation did not influence the findings. That could have prevented members of some particular communities from being targeted.
It is said that the concept of humanity is superior to the concept of nationality. Both the central and state government must consider this while verifying one’s citizenship. As Indians, we firmly believe in the theory of universal brotherhood. And, we are the followers of the Sanskrit phrase ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the whole world is one family)’. So, our nation should be generous while judging citizenship of its residents.
Is it possible for working class people, who don’t have enough to eat, to move from one place to another to appear at the NRC hearings repeatedly? This is of great concern. The government is not paying them anything for appearing in NRC hearings. Most people from the economically weaker sections don’t have access to documentation pertaining to the NRC process. How can they manage all this?
The NRC has no other valid reason other than targeting members of a specific community. All the other reasons are mere hogwash.