New Delhi, Jul 22: Ahead of the publication of NRC in Assam, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said there was no need to panic and all bonafide Indians will be given adequate opportunities to prove their citizenship.
In a series of tweets, the home minister said the National Register of Citizens (NRC), a list of Assam's citizens, is being updated in accordance with the 'Assam Accord' signed on August 15, 1985 and is being carried out as per the directions of the Supreme Court, which is constantly monitoring the process. "There is no reason for panic or fear. No person will be allowed to be harassed. We will ensure that every individual gets justice and is treated in a humane manner," he said.
Singh assured that the NRC exercise is being carried out in a totally impartial, transparent and meticulous manner and will continue to be so. "All individuals will have sufficient opportunity for all remedies available under the law. At every stage of the process, adequate opportunity is given to all persons to be heard," he said.
The home minister said the entire process is being conducted according to law and due procedure is being followed. Singh said the central government wants to make it clear that the NRC, to be published on July 30, is only a draft and after draft publication, adequate opportunity for claims and objections will be available.
"All claims and objections will be duly examined. Adequate opportunity of being heard will be given before disposal of claims and objections. Only thereafter, final NRC will be published," he said. The home minister said the Citizenship Rules provide that any person who is not satisfied with the outcome of claims and objections can appeal in the Foreigner's Tribunal. Therefore, there is no question of anyone being put in a detention centre after the publication of NRC, he said.
Singh said the Assam government has been asked to ensure that law and order is maintained and no one is allowed to take law into their hands, and all possible arrangements are made to ensure safety and security for all. "The central government will provide all necessary help to the state government of Assam in this regard," he said. The first draft of the NRC, a list of the state's citizens, was published on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 last where names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated.
The massive exercise aimed at identifying illegal immigrants in the state that borders Bangladesh is being carried out following a decision in 2005 after a series of meetings between the central and state governments and the influential All Assam Students' Union (AASU). Assam, which faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC, first prepared in 1951. The current exercise, started in 2005 under the then Congress regime, got a major push after the BJP came to power in the state with illegal immigration from Bangladesh as a poll plank. When the NRC was first prepared in Assam way back in 1951, the state had 80 lakh citizens then.
The process of identification of illegal immigrants in Assam has been debated and become a contentious issue in the state's politics. A six-year agitation demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants was launched by the AASU in 1979. It culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985, in the presence of the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.