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Groups oppose NRC update

- Gogoi reiterates pledge to complete update in 3 years

Guwahati/New Delhi, Sept. 15: Three organisations of Assam today opposed Dispur’s move to update the 1951 National Register of Citizens as chief minister Tarun Gogoi reiterated in Delhi that his government would complete the process in three years.

The Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha, Indigenous Tribal Peoples’ Forum and the NDFB (Progressive) demanded that the government must first detect foreigners staying illegally in Assam, taking the National Register of Citizens of 1951 and voter list of 1952 as the cut-off period, to prevent the entry of illegal migrants in the updated NRC.

“The 1985 Assam Accord is not at all clear in terms of detection and deportation of foreigners illegally living in the state. We do not think that the accord is valid and the most authentic document for proper detection of foreigners. So we reject the cut-off date of March 24, 1971 to detect illegal migrants in the state,” Matiur Rahman, executive president of the Mahasangha, told reporters in Guwahati.

He said if 1971 is taken as the cut-off year, the updated NRC would have to include many illegal migrants. “So we demand that the NRC should not be updated first.”

The demand to update the NRC has gained momentum in the wake of the BTAD riots. Several organisations and political parties insist that the violence would not have taken place had the NRC or the Assam Accord been implemented in toto.

NDFB (P) general secretary Govinda Basumatary told reporters if the NRC is updated on the basis of NRC 1951 and voter list of 1952, there would be no foreigner illegally living in the state. The state cabinet has approved the Prithibi Majhi-headed cabinet sub-committee report on how to go about the task and the modalities have been sent to the Centre for approval.

Gogoi told reporters in Delhi that his government had set a three-year deadline to update the NRC. “We will complete the process by covering at least 42 (Assembly) constituencies every year,” he said. Assam has 126 seats.

Gogoi said the process for gathering information had been simplified and he had asked the Centre to approve it at the earliest. He appealed to the people and political parties to cooperate with the government when it commences the exercise to update NRC, most likely by December.

He said while the government was determined to weed out foreigners, no Indian citizen would be harassed. He said committees had already been formed at the district, subdivision and thana (police station) levels but there weren’t many volunteers.

Taking a dig at the Opposition, he said the Congress government was more sincere about the NRC than the AGP or NDA governments. “Why did they not bother to upgrade it when the NDA was in power?” he asked. “We are committed to updating the NRC,” he added.

A notification amending the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 was issued by the home ministry on November 9, 2009 to enable the state government to update the NRC. The process faced several hurdles on the ground. Sources said the Centre has advised Dispur to begin the NRC update in Upper Assam and continue in lower Assam districts.