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    NRC to give effect to Assam Accord: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)

    Published on September 3, 2019

     

    By Bhupen Goswami

    Guwahati : Refuting foreign media reports, the Government of India on Sunday clarified that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) aims to give effect to the Assam Accord of 1985, the signatories being the Government of India, Government of Assam, All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP). In a statement, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said there have been some commentaries in a section of the foreign media about aspects of the final NRC, which are incorrect. The Government of India signed the Assam Accord in 1985 with a promise to take care of the interests of the citizens of Assam. Raveesh Kumar said the NRC was not an executive-driven process, but rather a court-mandated and court-monitored exercise. “Supreme Court of India mandated the government to deliver on the commitment in 2013. This led to the process of updating the National Register of Citizens in Assam in 2015,” the MEA spokesperson clarified. He assured that the NRC update was a statutory, transparent and legal process, mandated by the Supreme Court.

    “This is not an executive-driven process. The process is being monitored by SC directly and the government is acting in accordance with the directives issued by the court. The apex court of the land has itself set the deadlines for all steps that have been taken so far,” Raveesh Kumar said. “For those who are not in the final National Register of Citizen (NRC) list will not be detained and will continue to enjoy all the rights as before till they have exhausted all the remedies available under the law,” he said. Meanwhile, sources said India was concerned over reports on the NRC in a section of foreign media that sought to paint a wrong picture. For instance, The Washington Post carried a story on the NRC, headlined ‘Citizenship list in Indian state leaves out almost 2 million’, which discussed the possible fallout of the citizenship list that sought to “weed out illegal immigrants”. It highlighted the story of one Sayera Begum who reportedly jumped into a well (and was later dragged out) after erroneously hearing that her name wasn’t on the list. The news report also included interviews with other distraught “teary-eyed” citizens, and even included reminders of what the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government and Home Minister Amit Shah had earlier said on the issue. “India’s Home Minister, Amit Shah, earlier called Bangladeshi migrants ‘infiltrators’ and ‘termites’. The Modi-led government, which fully backs the citizenship project in Assam, has often vowed to roll out a similar plan nationwide,” several newspapers reported.

    The Guardian reported that rights groups warn of possible humanitarian crisis as those left off the citizenship list face “statelessness and detention”. The newspaper also quoted anguished activists and lawyers to the consensus that the path ahead was quite unclear. It spoke of how the list was unfairly skewed against a number of people – women, for instance, who often lack access to necessary documents, and Muslims. “There are concerns that Muslim communities could be worst affected. Separately from the register, the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is pursuing a citizenship amendment bill, which aims to give citizenship to religious groups such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and others who are minorities in neighbouring countries – but not to Muslims,” the report said. “Rights activists say courts will be overwhelmed since the appeal period is short. ‘Imagine Foreigners Tribunals (FTs) adjudicating two to three million cases and they have been given just 120 days,’ a New Delhi-based human rights activist told Al Jazeera. FT courts have been criticised for ex parte judgments, a process of declaring people foreigners without trial,” the Al Jazeera said. It also questioned whether the ruling party was using the list to target the Muslim community in the State (it forms one-third of Assam’s population). In a story headlined ‘No Bangladeshis Among Them’ Bangladesh’s leading English daily The Daily Star quoted the country’s Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, who was quoted as having claimed that he does not think those excluded from the final list of Assam’s NRC are Bangladeshis. Momen also claimed that the NRC was India’s internal issue and that “we have nothing to worry about”. The Daily Star also quoted Border Guards Bangladesh officials as saying that they “stepped up vigilance along borders with India, especially with Assam, after the final NRC list was released yesterday.” Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) has expressed grave apprehension over the entire NRC process in Assam and voiced concern over the fact that nearly two million people have been excluded from the final list. JIH’s community affairs secretary Malik Mohtasim Khan said they appreciate that the process was carried out under the supervision of the Supreme Court. Had it not been the case then the number of people excluded from the final list would have been much bigger, he said. Khan stated that the entire NRC process is politically motivated. While the BJP, Congress and Assamese regional parties are opposing the NRC result, the fascist forces are trying to communalise the NRC issue, he said. “We demand that the entire NRC process should be stopped. We also appeal to all justice loving people of India to help the people of Assam. We oppose extending the NRC process to other parts of the country,” he added.

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