Confusion and anger gripped the Northeast Indian state of Assam on Tuesday, a day after the government released a partial list of registered citizens that included only 19 million of its 32 million people. The commission aims to complete the process by 2018.
However, welcoming the draft NRC's part, All Assam Students Union (Aasu) adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya termed it the "first step towards having a foreigner-free Assam". Sonowal's strongly worded message comes less than 48 hours after the publication of the first draft of the NRC in which 1.9 crore of the 3.29 crore applicants have found place.
We want peace in Assam, he said, appealing to the people to exercise restraint and wait for publication of the second draft NRC.
The NRC authorities had received applications submitted by 3.29 crore people, accompanied by six crore documents, of the state for inclusion of their names in the NRC, the process of updating which began in 2013 and was carried out under the Supreme Court's instruction.
However, according to News18 Assam and NorthEast, Barua had rejected the NRC and said that this list is a conspiracy to "Indianise" the Assamese populace.
Mittal was commenting over the category of Doubtful voters, called "D-voter" where a person's name has been struck off from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and thereby denied basic fundamental rights guaranteed to every Indian citizen. The NRC exercise is likely to be over by the end of the year. Recently, the Supreme Court of India granted the use of verified Gram Panchayat certificates as the proof of citizenship, but still many Indians are waiting to be counted as one.
Lok Sabha MP from Silchar in Assam Sushmita Dev slammed the government for coming out with an "incomplete list" and said this has created unease among locals in Assam. Aware of the fact that India and Bangladesh do not have any deportation treaty, he said, "The issue of deportation will come later".
"Only those declared by Foreigners' Tribunals as foreigners are kept in the detention centres", he said.
"This is going to be a historic moment, not just for Assam, but for the entire country".
"Illegal migrant" is a terminology to target Bengali-speaking Muslims who have been settled in Assam for generations.
The issue of illegal immigration from neighbouring Bangladesh is one of the most controversial subjects in Assam's socio-political life since several decades.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Assam Public Works, an NGO in the Supreme Court in 2009 made much difference as the issue of foreigners reached the Apex Court which subsequently issued several orders for updating the NRC 1951 in Assam.
Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India.
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