R DUTTA CHOUDHURY
GUWAHATI, Feb 11 - The purpose of preparation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) may be defeated if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is passed. Moreover, if the Bill is passed, certain categories of persons living in Assam, who tried to get their names included in the NRC, can get rewards in form of citizenship instead of getting punished for providing false information.
Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that the entire process of updating the NRC can be wasted if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is passed and is implemented in the State. Sources pointed out that the NRC is being updated on the basis of the Assam Accord with the midnight of March 24, 1971 as the cut off date for a person to become eligible for inclusion of his or her name in the citizenship document. Moreover, the process of updating the NRC did not differentiate people on the basis of religion. The NRC will only differentiate between Indian citizens living in the State and non Indians but the Bill seeks to differentiate the foreigners on the basis of religion.
Sources pointed out that so far, no Bangladeshi national has sought shelter or citizenship in Assam claiming that he or she faced religious persecution in Bangladesh. Though the Government of India introduced long term visa regime for people belonging to minority communities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan way back in 2015, no one has applied for the same in Assam. “That is why we can presume that all the foreigners who are living illegally in Assam had applied for getting their names included in the NRC with false or forged documents. Any person who applied for inclusion of names in the NRC with false or forged documents is liable to be prosecuted as per law but if the Bill is passed, some persons who had provided false information knowingly will be rewarded with Indian citizenship,” sources pointed out.
The process of updating the NRC has been going on since 2013 under the supervision of the Supreme Court and around Rs 1,200 crore has already been spent on the entire exercise, which may go into waste of the Bill is passed.
Replying to a question on whether it would technically be possible to include names of anyone who is granted Indian citizenship if the Bill is passed, sources said that it would be a difficult proposition. “Theoretically it can be possible. If the Government sends the list of persons granted Indian citizenship to the NRC coordinator’s office, the names of such persons can be included. But practically, it would be a difficult process as it will be hard for the persons concerned to prove that they came to India because of religious persecution. The Government machinery will find it almost impossible to determine which foreigner came to Assam on which date as no one registered themselves with any Government authority and claimed that they came because of religious persecution. Moreover, if they had applied for inclusion of names in the NRC with false documents, how can the same persons be allowed to claim that they are in fact Bangladeshi nationals who came to India because of religious persecution,” sources added.