Complete NRC process via Foreigners’ Tribunals: Congress

About 19.06 lakh out of the 3.3 crore applicants were left out of the updated NRC published in 2019

The Assam unit of the Congress on Thursday demanded the completion of the long-pending claims and objections process of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) via the Foreigners’ Tribunals for national identity cards to be given to all genuine citizens in the State.

About 19.06 lakh out of the 3.3 crore applicants were left out of the updated NRC published in August 2019. They were supposed to file citizenship claims at the nearest tribunal within 120 days of receiving rejection slips from the NRC authority outlining the reasons for their exclusion.

“The excluded people are in a limbo. Since only the names of genuine citizens of the pre-1971 period would be left after fair claims and objections process, the government should issue national identity cards to these citizens in accordance with the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955,” Congress MLA and the Leader of the Opposition in the 126-member Assam Assembly, Debabrata Saikia, said on Thursday.

He insisted that there was no need to invoke the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) as any foreigner could apply for Indian citizenship under Sections 5 and 6 of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

“On March 19, just before the 2021 Assembly election, the Assam government cited a letter from the Centre and instructed the district administrative and police heads to disseminate information regarding the grant of citizenship to migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who hold long-term visas,” Mr. Saikia said.

“Since the CAA was introduced for migrants from these three countries, there is reason to suspect that the latest instruction issued by the State government is nothing but a ploy to implement the CAA in Assam in a roundabout way,” he added.

He pointed out that the recent Assembly election could not be interpreted as an endorsement of the CAA by the people of Assam because the BJP secured only 33.21% of the votes.

“If a section of foreign migrants is to be granted citizenship on the basis of long-term visas, the inner-line permit system should be introduced in Assam according to the provisions of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, to safeguard the rights of the indigenous people of the State,” Mr. Saikia said.

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