One of the Assam-based organisations that has been pursuing cases related to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has said that the NRC cannot protect the indigenous people of the State if 1971 remains the base year for identifying foreigners.
The Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha (ASM), an umbrella organisation of several indigenous groups, said that a final NRC would not be possible until the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court gives a verdict on its petition. The petition was submitted in December 2014.
The ASM had challenged the Constitutional validity of the midnight of March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for detecting and deporting foreigners. This date was agreed upon while signing the Assam Accord in August 1985 to end a six-year violent agitation against foreigners in the State.
The ASM had demanded 1951 as the cut-off year for determining citizenship as in other parts of India.
“The NRC to be released on August 31 cannot be the final one until the Constitution Bench gives its verdict on our petitions. The base year of 1971 will not protect the rights of indigenous people because many migrants from erstwhile East Pakistan and later Bangladesh entered Assam from 1951 onward,” ASM’s working president Motiur Rahman said.
More than 80 organisations batting for indigenous communities had demanded 1951 as the base year for identifying foreigners soon after the NRC exercise was undertaken in the latter half of 2013. These organisations included the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Progressive), Indigenous Tribal People’s Front and Sonowal Kachari Jatiya Parishad.
Some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and local heads of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have also demanded 1951 as the base year in the NRC process, but with concessions for Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Jain migrants who came to Assam after 1951.
‘Riddled with flaws’
Another organisation called Prabrajan Vrodhi Mancha (Anti-Influx Platform) said that Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and other State BJP leaders blaming NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela has “made it evident that the NRC is riddled with flaws” for the inclusion of a large number of foreigners.
The BJP in the State and Centre turned a blind eye to instances of NRC personnel caught seeking bribe, some foreigners being assigned NRC updating work and other reports of subversion, the organisation said.