The much-anticipated second and final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which was published in Assam on Monday, left the BJP-led government and Opposition at loggerheads even as the names of 40 lakh applicants did not find a place in the historic document touted to be proof of Assamese identity.
According to the Registrar General of India Sailesh, 2.9 crore names out of the total 3.29 crore applicants were published. The first draft of the NRC was published during the intervening night of 31 December and 1 January, and contained 1.9 crore names.
"This is a historic day for India and Assam. The exercise is unparalleled in size. It is a legal process done under the direct supervision of the Supreme Court," Sailesh said at a press conference.
The exercise was carried out in a transparent, fair and objective manner, he stated.
Talking about people whose names did not appear in the final draft, officials reiterated that the list was not the final NRC and those individuals could begin the claims and objection process from 30 August. "The process for making claims and objections will begin on 30 August and continue till 28 September. Adequate and ample scope will be given to people for making objections. No genuine Indian citizen should have any fear," Sailesh said.
'Will abide by directions of Supreme Court,' says Sarbananda Sonowal
Congratulating the people of the state for the successful publication of the NRC, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Monday said "the historic day will remain etched in their memories forever".
"Assam is a peaceful state and I am confident that all sections of the society will come forward to maintain peace and tranquility. We always abide by the directions of the Supreme Court, and whatever it says, we will sincerely follow and observe it," Sonowal told reporters in Guwahati.
Sonowal expressed confidence that the NRC, which has become the "instrument to safeguard the interest of greater Assamese society," would be able to pave the way for realising the hopes and aspirations of the genuine Indian citizens.
Project my brainchild, says ex-chief minister Tarun Gogoi
Former Assam chief minister and Congress leader Tarun Gogoi said that he felt a large number of genuine citizens were left out of the final draft. "Among the forty lakh, not included, a vast majority will turn out to be Indian citizens. Otherwise, why have they (the government) given so much importance to the ‘claims and objections’ procedure? If they were so confident of their draft, why have they allowed forty lakh people to file claims and objections?" he told Firstpost in an exclusive interview.
The NRC process began about five years ago under the Congress government in Assam with the then-chief minister Gogoi at the helm of affairs. In a Supreme Court judgment dated 17 December, 2014, the apex court fixed a timeline to update and publish the NRC, and said that it will monitor the process.
"The NRC is my brainchild. There was no such demand in the state, there was nothing even in the Assam Accord about the setting up of NRC. During the Congress regime, there were objections that multiple illegitimate people were given the right to vote, which is why the NRC was set up," said Gogoi.
Govt has no role in NRC, followed SC directions: Rajnath Singh
Amid Opposition uproar in the Lok Sabha over the 40 lakh missing names in the NRC final draft, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday asked parties opposing it not to politicise the "sensitive" issue. The minister told the Lok Sabha that the list has been published on the directives of the Supreme Court and the Centre has no role in it.
"In publishing NRC, the government has done nothing. Everything is being done as per Supreme Court order. The allegation of the Opposition against the government is baseless," Singh said. He appealed to opposition members not to create "panic" since it is a "sensitive issue".
"The government is not doing anything. Whatever is happening is under the supervision of the Supreme Court," he said.
However, he reiterated that the list published on Monday was only a draft and not the final list and applicants will have the option of raising claims and objections. ""People who feel their name should have been part of the NRC can file claims and objections. In how much time those claims and objections would be disposed off that will be decided by the Supreme Court," Singh said.
Bengalis, Biharis living in Assam 'Indians, not Rohingya,' says Mamata Banerjee
Addressing the media after the Assam NRC final draft was released on Monday, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee claimed that Bengalis and Biharis living in Assam were being targetted, and said that they are "Indians, not Rohingya".
"How can they send women and children to detention centres? Aren't people from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states living in Bengal? Bengalis living in Assam are being targetted. They are not Rohingya, they are Indians," she said.
Terming the move as a deliberate attempt to isolate Bengalis and Biharis, Banerjee said: "People are being isolated through a game plan. We are worried because people are being made refugees in their own country. It's a plan to throw out Bengali speaking people and Biharis. Consequences will be felt in our state also," she said.
Questioning the lack of transparency of the NRC process, the TMC leader said, "This is politics ahead of the 2019 elections." The party chief also added that she would take up the matter with Singh when she visits New Delhi.
TMC leader Derek O'Brien was quoted as saying by The Indian Express that Banerjee and a delegation of party MPs will visit Assam.
Furore over NRC in Rajya Sabha
The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day on Monday as Opposition parties led by the TMC created an uproar over NRC. The Upper House witnessed three adjournments earlier in the day due to the continued uproar over the issue before the Chair called it a day at 2:13 pm.
When the House reconvened at 2 pm after the last adjournment, O'Brien stood up demanding a discussion on the notice given by him on the NRC. However, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said he had taken the initiative earlier in the day and even called Singh to the House to respond on the issue, but the House was not in order.
"Home minister came all the way to the House, neither the members were willing to say anything, nor did they allow the House to function," Naidu said, adjourning the Rajya Sabha for ten minutes.
When the House reconvened at 2:11 pm, O'Brien again demanded a discussion on the issue under Rule 267. However, Naidu reiterated that he had called the home minister to the House earlier in the day for a discussion, but the House was not in order and hence the opportunity could not be utilised.
"I assure you, I will give the first opportunity Tuesday morning in the beginning of session itself," Naidu said.
However, O'Brien was unrelenting and, other TMC members joined him in raising the issue, forcing Naidu to adjourn the House for the day.
Government should convene all-party meeting: Congress
The Congress asked the government to immediately convene an all-party meeting on the NRC issue and inform the Opposition on the proposed steps to ensure that no Indian citizen is left out. Senior party spokesperson Anand Sharma said there should be no politics over the issue.
"The government must immediately call a meeting of leaders of all parties and should inform about the steps it proposes to take," he said, adding that it would be proper if the meeting is called on Tuesday.
The NRC will include the names of all Indian citizens who have been residing in Assam before 25 March, 1971. The application process for the NRC started in May 2015 and a total of 6.5 crore documents were received from 68.27 lakh families across Assam.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Jul 30, 2018 19:24:46 IST