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Centre yet to take final decision on citizenship Bill
R DUTTA CHOUDHURY
 GUWAHATI, Nov 8 - The Government of India is yet to take a final decision on two major issues concerning Assam. The first is the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the second the fate of the people whose names will be left out of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC). Meanwhile, the Centre may ask the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe into the recent killing of five persons at Dhola in Tinsukia district.

Highly placed sources in the Central government told The Assam Tribune that the Centre is closely monitoring the situation after mass movements were launched against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the Dhola incident has become a matter of serious concern. Though it is suspected that the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) is involved in the Dhola killings, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is keen on finding the root and that is why the NIA may be asked to probe into the incident. The NIA has already conducted a preliminary investigation and submitted its report to the government.

Sources admitted that no formal decision has yet been taken on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the government is waiting for the report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) that was formed to consult the stakeholders and submit its recommendation on the Bill. If the JPC submits its report in the ensuing Winter Session of the Parliament, the government will have to take a “political decision” on the basis of the report.

Sources revealed that at present, several options are being considered by the government at the highest level on the fate of the Bill. According to one view, the government should hold on to the Bill instead of rushing through in the wake of the mass

protests in Assam. There is another view, according to which, the persons, who are minorities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh and entered India due to religious persecution there, cannot be driven back due to humanitarian ground and they should be given shelter in India. If the second view is accepted, the government will have to take a decision on whether they would be shifted to other states of the country as there have been widespread protests in Assam. “Finally, the government will have to take a political decision at the highest level,” sources admitted.

On the other hand, the process of updating the NRC is in its final stage and submissions of claims and objections are on. The process will continue up to December 15 and then the process of verification of the claims and objections will start. However, the Central government is yet to take a final decision on the fate of the people whose names would be left out of the NRC.

Sources admitted that it would not be possible to drive out lakhs of people from India and the government would have to devise a mechanism to deal with such people. A proposal to de-franchise those whose names are not included in the NRC and giving them work permits is under consideration of the government. But a final decision in this regard is yet to be taken, sources said.

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