Guwahati: Days after urging the Centre to dismiss the National Register of Citizens in its present form, senior BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday said the Assam government has decided to table the district-wise figure of Hindu Bengalis excluded from the final NRC list in the current Assembly session.
Sarma, also the state finance minister, claimed that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has found “huge irregularities” in the updation process of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state three years ago.
“We will give the figure of those Hindu Bengali people applying (in Foreigners Tribunal after exclusion in the NRC) in different districts during the ongoing session of the Assembly. We could not give that data earlier as NRC was not prepared. Now we have the data with district-wise break up,” he said while addressing the media in the Assembly premises.
The winter session of the state Assembly that started on Thursday will end on December 6.
It has been alleged from various quarters that a large number of Hindus have been excluded from the updated final NRC published on August 31 leaving out over 19 lakh applicants.
Union home minister Amit Shah had announced in Rajya Sabha on November 20 that the NRC updation process will be carried out afresh in Assam concurrently with the rest of India. On the same day, Sarma said the state government has requested Shah to reject the NRC in the current form.
Sarma on Thursday said only the AIUDF and a section of Congress MLAs, and not the people of Assam, demanded that NRC should not be cancelled.
The Supreme Court-monitored NRC updation exercise, aimed at identifying illegal immigrants, mostly from erstwhile East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh), was carried out in Assam which has been facing an influx of people from the neighbouring country since the early 20th century.
Sarma said the country-wide NRC should have a common cut-off date, otherwise people will be able to take Indian citizenship in one state despite being rejected in another.
“The new NRC may take place with 1971 as cut off year or there may be a completely new deadline. But, whatever be the deadline for the rest of India, it should be applicable to Assam also. We do not have any objection to any year before 1971,” the BJP leader said.
On the first day of the winter session, the Congress and the AIUDF members protested against the state government’s move to dismiss the NRC and the controversial citizenship amendment bill (CAB).
Sarma said the Union home minister will hold meetings on the CAB issue with various groups and parties, including the state unit of the Congress, along with chief ministers of the Northeastern states on Friday and Saturday.
“I hope that the CAB will be passed during the ongoing session of Parliament…. I hope the CAB will come. In Assam, we want CAB…. For the sake of Assamese people, the CAB is necessary,” he added.
Sarma also said the CAG had inspected the NRC office and its activities about three years ago and informed the state government about “huge irregularities and anomalies” in the NRC updation exercise.
But, to avoid confusion among the people, the chief minister and he had decided at that time not to act on that report till the NRC is completed, the minister said.
Sarma did not reveal the sum of the alleged irregularities in the mammoth exercise to update the NRC, the final version of which was published on August 31 under the then NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela.
Meanwhile, a complaint has been lodged against Hajela by an NGO, Assam Public Works (APW), with the CBI’s Anti- Corruption Branch, alleging misappropriation of government funds in updating the document.
To a question on the Assam Accord, he said those who prepared the pact will speak for it.
“I did not sign that Accord. Or did you sign it? Nobody was consulted before signing the Accord. Prafulla Mahanta was a signatory, so he is committed to the Accord.
Himanta Biswa Sarma did not sign it, so I am not committed for it. The Assam Assembly has also not endorsed the Accord. There was no proposal in the Assembly to accept the Accord,” Sarma said.
The NRC revision has been carried out in Assam as per provisions of the Assam Accord.
A six-year agitation demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants was launched by the All Assam Students Union (AASU) in 1979. It had culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985, in the presence of the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.