Assam parties up in arms against NRC chief

He has suggested trimming the number of admissible documents as citizenship proof from 15 to 10
Suggestions to the Supreme Court by the officer heading the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to slash the list of “admissible documents” as citizenship proof from 15 to 10 has stirred a controversy in Assam ahead of the phase for filing of claims and objections. More than 40 lakh of the 3.29 crore applicants have been left out of the complete NRC draft published on July 30. While these people await their turn to prove their citizenship with documents other than those already submitted but rejected, State NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela, in his latest report to the court, sought the exclusion of five ‘list A’ documents for re-verification of those excluded. These documents are the 1951 NRC; voters’ lists and ration cards up to March 24, 1971; citizenship certificates; and refugee registration certificates. March 24, 1971, is the cut-off date for detecting and deporting illegal migrants from Assam under the Assam Accord of 1985 that ended a six-year agitation against foreigners.
Congress seeks ouster
Apart from Opposition parties such as the Congress and the All India United Democratic Front, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has found fault with Mr. Hajela’s suggestion. BJP State general secretary Dilip Saikia said Mr. Hajela’s report has complicated the situation, as “lakhs of Indians belonging to the Gurkha, Bengali and Hindi-speaking communities have been left out”. The BJP had a few days ago written to Mr. Hajela, insisting that the migration certificate, citizenship certificate and all variants of refugee cards be accepted in the NRC updating process.
The Congress went to the extent of demanding Mr. Hajela’s removal for “misleading the apex court”. Debabrata Saikia, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, said the official had been acting whimsically and playing with the lives of people who did not possess any of the 10 documents now being preferred despite their ancestors being in the 1951 NRC and pre-1971 voters’ lists. “If the 1951 NRC won’t be accepted, what was the point of an exercise that cost more than Rs. 1,200 crore of the taxpayers’ money,” AIUDF general secretary Aminul Islam said.
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