Progress has been made in evolving consensus among people of Assam and other northeastern States on amendment to the Citizenship Act, Assam Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Sunday.
“Negotiations are on with various social groups in Assam and other northeastern States. By November or December we hope to get a positive result about the amendment to the Act,” he said at the second edition of Pondy Lit Fest.
The National Register of Citizens was not prepared after looking at the religious identity of people, he claimed. After people expressed concern, the Bharatiya Janata Party undertook a study of the register and it was found that around 8 lakh muslims, 6 lakh Hindus and 2 lakh indigenous people of Assam were left out, he said.
The exclusion, he said, was due to certain provisions in the Citizenship Act, and once it was corrected, non-Muslims, who migrated to the country from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh due to religious prosecution, would get citizenship. Once the amendment was made, non-Muslims who migrated to the country need not have to go to foreigners’ tribunals to appeal against exclusion.
However, he was silent on the plight of Bangladeshi Muslims settled in Assam after the amendment.
“Once the amendment was made we will go in full force and implement NRC,” he said.
He also blamed the previous Congress regime for the present demographic change that happened in Assam. Delimitation was carried out in a manner to accord demographic importance to a particular community, he said.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan in his address said the rich civilisational history of the country has started getting its due acknowledgement, domestically and internationally as well.
“Our civilisation, diversity and pluralism have not created any worry. It is a source of our strength. Now, we have reached a stage where we are able to internationalise our culture,” Mr. Khan said.
India had passed through a stage of decline in its culture and civilisation, he said adding that the “New India,” was more assertive in recognising its culture and heritage.