New Delhi: The Opposition on Tuesday asked the government to adopt a humanitarian approach on the 'sensitive' issue of Assam's National Register of Citizens (NRC) while ensuring that no Indian was left out of it.
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.
The issue was discussed in the Rajya Sabha during the Question Hour which was dispensed with by Chairman Venkaiah Naidu who termed it as a "serious and sensitive" matter.
Soon after the Upper House met, it was adjourned for an hour after the Opposition created an uproar.
Initiating the discussion, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress said it was a humanitarian issue and not a matter of any particular caste, religion or region.
"We don't want any person to be driven out of the country. This is not only about 40 lakh people, if you consider their children, families, it comes to 1-1.5 crore people," Azad claimed, adding that the issue may have international ramifications, especially India's relation with 'close friend' Bangladesh.
He observed that the onus of proving identity as a citizen of India should lie upon not just on an individual but the government as well.
Azad said the government should make legal provisions for the affected persons and there should be no harassment. The Leader of Opposition further said even if one document is there out of the 16 documents required to prove identity, it should suffice, adding no political party should make it a political or vote issue.
Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party claimed that those not included in the NRC include Hindus as well as Muslims, and even those from states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
He said there is a need to exercise a lot of caution on the issue because if the name of an Indian citizen in Assam is not included in the NRC, where will the person go.
Sukhendu Sekhar Roy of the Trinamool Congress said their leader Mamata Banerjee wants the NRC to be withdrawn.
He claimed that 40 lakh people have been rendered "country-less" which is unique in the history of the world. He claimed Indian citizens, as well as government officials, have been left out of the draft NRC list.
Roy said a "misconception" was being spread among the people that the exercise was being conducted in accordance with the Supreme Court's directive. He asserted that the right of the people to reside in any state as per the Constitution is being violated.
Prasanna Acharya of the BJD said none of us should read politics in the issue because it is very sensitive. He urged Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was present in the House at the time, to provide an assurance that all irregularities in the NRC will be taken care of.
"In the heat of the argument let us not forget that this an issue where national security is involved, a humanitarian angle is also involved," Acharya said.
YS Chowdary of the TDP claimed that proper procedure has not been followed in the exercise of compiling the NRC and consequently, 40 lakh people have been declared refugees. TK Rangarajan of the CPM alleged that it was an "illegal" report and does not take into account several people from other parts of India who moved to Assam earlier.
Manoj Kumar Jha of the RJD said it cannot solely be a "heartless bureaucratic exercise" but should have a humanitarian approach as a person lives in a community. Veer Singh of the BSP said an informed decision should be taken in this regard.
Majeed Memon of the NCP said it is not an issue of people from one religion alone but constitutional values with regard to rights of an Indian citizen are involved. He claimed that India will become the laughing stock of the world if the people living in Assam since the last 50 years were dumped somewhere else.
Updated Date: Jul 31, 2018 15:48 PM