R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Aug 12 - Publication of the draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam proved that it is possible to prepare such a citizenship document in other states of the country, at least in the states facing the problem of infiltration of foreign nationals. However, at the same time, the Government of India has resigned to the fact that it will not be possible to send back lakhs of people to Bangladesh and giving them biometric work permits may be the only solution, at least for the next few years.
Highly placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune that the gravity of the problem of infiltration of foreigners to Assam is much more serious than other states of the country and that is why, when the process of updating the NRC started in the State, there were apprehensions on whether it would be possible to carry out the job. But after the publication of the draft, it is proved that if such an exercise is possible in Assam, it is also very much possible in other states of the country. However, it will depend on the political will of the Central Government as well as the concerned state governments, sources added.
The Government has also accepted the fact that it would not be possible to send back lakhs of people to Bangladesh and the deportation process would take years. Sources pointed out that under the present system of deportation of persons declared as Bangladeshi nationals by the Foreigners’ Tribunals, the names and original addresses of the persons are sent to the Government of Bangladesh and after verification, they either accept or refuse to take them back. It’s a long process and only last month, 52 Bangladeshi nationals were deported at one go. The Union Home Minister, during his recent visit to Bangladesh, took up the matter with the Government of Bangladesh, but a sovereign country cannot be forced to accept the verdict of the Foreigners’ Tribunals in India. Sources said that at present, the Government of Bangladesh is not hostile to India, but at the same time, the neighbouring country cannot be expected to take back lakhs of people.
Sources pointed out that names of more than 40 lakh people living in Assam were not included in the first draft but those people have the right to file claims and objections. Even after the publication of the final NRC, those whose names will not appear in it will have the right to approach the Foreigners’ Tribunals and then even the higher courts. The process will definitely take a long time as a substantial number of cases are already pending before the Tribunals. After the entire process is completed, the Government will have an idea of the number of foreigners living in Assam, sources pointed out.
MHA sources said that after the Government comes to know of the number of foreigners living in Assam, it would not be feasible to push them back immediately and providing them with biometric long term work permits may turn out to be the only solution. In such a scenario, the foreign nationals will not have the right to vote or to buy immovable properties. Keeping such a huge number of people in detention camps will also not be a feasible idea as it would be a huge drain in the state exchequer but if biometric work permits are given to them, it will be comparatively easier to trace them out later, sources added.