The Assam Public Works (APW), the original petitioner in the Supreme Court on updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC), on Thursday welcomed Union Home Minister Amit Shah's announcement that the NRC would be updated again in the state along with the rest of the country.
Guwahati, Nov 21: The Assam Public Works (APW), the original petitioner in the Supreme Court on updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC), on Thursday welcomed Union Home Minister Amit Shah's announcement that the NRC would be updated again in the state along with the rest of the country.
The Congress, however, opposed the move claiming that the BJP wants a fresh NRC update without the supervision of the Supreme Court, as it wants to exclude a section of genuine Indian citizens from the religious minority community and include illegal migrants from a linguistic minority group.
Shah had announced in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that the NRC update process will be carried out afresh in Assam concurrently with the rest of India.
"The Union home minister's announcement has come as a ray of hope to the indigenous population of Assam. We are definitely hopeful but not excited about it. We will express our happiness only when the home minister's announcement fulfils the genuine aspirations of the people," APW president Abhijeet Sarma said here.
The updated final NRC which validates bonafide Indian citizens of Assam, was released on August 31 excluding names of over 19 lakh applicants in the state.
In 2009, the APW had filed a petition in the Supreme Court that led to the start of the updation exercise of the NRC in 2015.
Assam, which had faced an influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC, which was first prepared in 1951.
"An official's bias and vested interests led to the publication of a flawed NRC.... Names of genuine Indian citizens were left out while those of illegal immigrants were included in the final NRC," the APW chief claimed.
The APW has submitted a petition in the apex court highlighting the alleged discrepancies in the final NRC.
"We will file another petition in the Supreme Court soon demanding an IT audit of the software used for preparing the NRC data," Sarma added.
After the final NRC was published on August 31, the APW had wondered whether the software used in the updation exercise was capable of handling so much data and if it was examined by any third party Information Technology expert.
Opposing the idea of a fresh NRC updation exercise in Assam, senior Assam Congress leader Debabrata Saikia alleged that the BJP wants to keep the NRC issue simmering to further its agenda of polarization along religious lines.
The final NRC was published under the supervision of the Supreme Court and, "significantly, the apex court has accepted the validity of the final NRC", Saikia said.
"Shah's announcement about a fresh NRC update in Assam indicates that the (Narendra) Modi government is unwilling to accept the decision of the Supreme Court," Saikia, the leader of the opposition in Assam assembly, claimed.
The NRC was updated by engaging over 50,000 employees of the Assam government and spending over Rs 1,200 crore of tax-payers' money, he said adding that about 3.29 crore people of the state went through a great deal of trouble to collect documents and participate in the exercise.
"I would like to appeal to the Supreme Court not to allow the Modi government to carry out another NRC update exercise in Assam" so that people do not have to face renewed harassment, Saikia said.
The All Assam Students' Union (AASU), the signatory to the Assam Accord, has also filed a petition in the Supreme Court alleging flaws in the final NRC and its hearing will be held on November 26.
The AASU is a signatory to the Assam Accord, a 1985 document that provided for "detection, deletion and deportation" of illegal foreigners from Assam.
AASU Advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya said they were not satisfied with the final NRC but have full faith in the Supreme Court and "we have approached the highest court to redress the grievances of people of Assam".
"There is a law that NRC can be applicable to the entire country with the cut-off date as 1951 and it should have been done. In Assam, we have a special provision that the cut-off year is 1971 and we want it to be updated," he added.
The AASU along with other student bodies of the North Eastern states have been demanding NRC updation in all the states of the region, Bhattacharya claimed.
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