Assam: Cong ‘courts’ controversy; to ‘go legal’ over ongoing NRC update process

APCC chief Ripun Bora says his party will fight a legal battle for the religious minorities whose names have been excluded from NRC

People waiting to check their names in the first draft of NRC. (file photo)

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The Opposition Congress party has alleged that the Sarbananda Sonowal-led Government in Assam is using the whole NRC exercise per se to “polarise” the State on religious grounds ahead of the 2019 elections next year.

A report appearing in the The Economic Times on Monday quoted the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president, Ripun Bora, as saying, “Religious minorities were excluded from the NRC updation process despite having valid documents. Our party will fight a legal battle for them.”

“Congress will provide all the legal help to Indian citizens who are not included in the NRC,” he said. The report further quoted Bora as saying that there was “interference in the Supreme Court-mandated NRC updation process. We have ground reports that NRC officials have not verified documents, which will lead to exclusion of several people.”

He added that there was an “increase” in the instances of notices being served to Doubtful (‘D’) voters and suspected foreigners. There are 1.25 lakh doubtful voters. These voters are termed as doubtful voters as their identity is doubtful and their names are yet to be cleared by the Foreigners Tribunal.

Bora further alleged that though the apex court had allowed Panchayat certificates as linkage documents, especially for married women, there were allegations of NRC officials “not accepting” them. Around 29 lakh people have submitted Panchayat certificates as a document to prove citizenship in the ongoing NRC updation process.

The first partial partial draft of NRC published on December 31, 2017 contained names of around 1.90 crore people. The apex court has extended the date of final draft publication by one month after work was hampered by floods in several districts of Assam. The final draft will be published on July 30 next.

The leader of the Opposition in the Assam Legislative Assembly, Debabrata Saika, recently visited the Kalikajari village in Morigaon district and interacted with 174 families whose members have been referred to Foreigners Tribunal by the Border Police.

These include names of family members of Moulavi Muhammed Amiruddin who was the first Deputy Speaker of the Assam Legislative Assembly. Saikia claimed that villagers complained they were arbitrarily referred by the Border Police as suspected foreigners even after “furnishing the requisite documents – school certificates, duly registered land deal documents and entries in the voters list and NRC entries of the pre-1971 period”.

Saikia said that genuine Indian citizens were suffering mental and financial distress and that a thorough judicial probe should be conducted into the “arbitrariness” in tagging D voters and suspected foreigners.

He expressed his concern over the fact that majority of people who are served ‘NRC notices’ belong to the “disadvantaged section of the society and they face a lot of financial stress while running from pillar to post to furnish documents. A judicial probe is needed on this”.

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