R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Aug 9 - The electoral rolls of Assam should be revised immediately after the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) is published as only Indian citizens have the right to vote and elect their representatives, said former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) HS Brahma.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Brahma expressed the view that the move to update the NRC was a very positive step and lauded the efforts of the State and Central Governments, officers involved in the process and the Supreme Court, which is constantly monitoring the process. He pointed out that for years, different persons were giving different statements on the number of illegal migrants staying in Assam. He said that after the publication of the final NRC, the exact figure of the presence of illegal migrants in Assam would be known. He also thanked the people of the State for their wholehearted cooperation to the process.
Brahma said that the publication of the draft of the NRC has given an idea of the number of illegal migrants staying in the State, but the exact figure would be known only after the publication of the final NRC following disposal of the claims and objections and possible court cases. He said that the publication of the draft is a positive step and hoped that the process would be taken to its logical conclusion under the supervision of the Supreme Court so that the illegal migrants can be identified.
Brahma pointed out that since the partition of the country, everyone was aware of the fact that people were illegally migrating to Assam from the then East Pakistan and later Bangladesh. But no one exactly knew the gravity of the problem. He said that though an NRC was made following the 1951 census, it was not updated. The NRC of 1951 should have been updated periodically, but that was not done. The Government of India conducts census in every 10 years and the NRC could have been updated every decade. Moreover, immediately after the signing of the Assam Accord, the Government could have prepared an NRC. But it is better late than never and it is a positive sign that finally Assam is going to have an NRC, which will differentiate between the Indian citizens living in the State and foreigners, he added.
The former CEC said that immediately after the final NRC is published, the electoral rolls of the State should be “purified” on the basis of the same. He admitted that the possibility of foreign nationals getting their names included in the voters’ lists cannot be ruled out and during an exercise carried out in 1996, more than three lakh doubtful voters were detected. Moreover, there are instances where some people have their names in different places. He expressed the view that there cannot be two lists of citizens in one place and the voters’ lists would have to be corrected on the basis of the NRC.