R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Aug 9 – The Government should expedite the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and photo identity cards should be given on the basis of it to remove suspicion and apprehension from the minds of the indigenous people so that ethnic clashes like the recent one in BTAD area can be prevented, said former Union Home Secretary GK Pillai.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Pillai, who is well versed with the situation in the North East region as he had earlier served as the Joint Secretary (NE) of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), said that the real issues bothering the people should be addressed. He pointed out that the apprehension in the minds of the people about infiltration of foreigners is a major issue, which should be addressed. If photo identity cards are given to Indian nationals on the basis of the updated NRC, that apprehension would be removed from the minds of the people, he added.
Pillai said that the Government of Assam suspended the process of updating the NRC after one incident of violence in Barpeta and the process was never resumed despite pressure from the MHA. He revealed that the State Government prepared the questionnaire in such a way which created trouble. The questionnaire should have been simple enough to avoid confusion and apprehension from the minds of the people just to identity whether a particular person came to India before 2971 or not but adding unnecessary questions in it caused apprehensions in the minds of the people, he added. He suggested that the Government should immediately start the process of updating the NRC so that all genuine Indian citizens can be given photo identity cards on the basis of the same.
On the recent violence in BTAD areas, Pillai said that pressure on land may be one of the main reasons for it, but the Government should find out who instigated the clashes. “The BTAD area is developing quite well and lots of infrastructure development is taking place. This attracted people from other parts to the BTAD area and added to the pressure on the land,” he added. He said that the clash could not have been instigated by the people of the Bodo community as the men folk of the community are busy in cultivation at this time of the year and there is no apparent reason for the community to resort to such attacks. He pointed out that after the creation of the Bodoland Autonomous Council (BTC) there had been no instance of ethnic cleansing. He also pointed out that the situation worsened after the killing of four Bodo youths.
The former Home Secretary said that the Government should have reacted strongly as soon as the clashes broke out to prevent deterioration of the situation. As the Army is already deployed in Assam for counter insurgency operations, Army personnel should have been pressed into service immediately, he added.