The Centre is not in a rush to take any decision after the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam was published on Saturday as the political leadership decides the next course of action.
A senior government official said there were several options available, but sending a large number of people to detention centres was not “practical”.
The Centre and the State government had filed affidavits in the Supreme Court demanding “reverification” of 20% of the names in districts bordering Bangladesh and 10% in other districts. Both requests were turned down.
‘Fair and correct’
On Saturday, Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma reiterated that reverification should be allowed by the “Hon’ble Apex court for a correct and fair NRC”.
The NRC is a Supreme Court-monitored exercise. Mr. Sarma said many names were included in the NRC by “manipulation of legacy data as alleged by many”.
“Names of many Indian citizens who migrated from Bangladesh as refugees prior to 1971 have not been included in the NRC because authorities refused to accept refugee certificates,” he said.
The government has clarified that those excluded will get an opportunity to present their case before the Foreigners Tribunals and then in the High Court and the Supreme Court.
“Even after legal options are exhausted, it will not be possible to send a large number of people to detention centres. No decision has been taken about the people who will be declared foreigners, maybe they are given work permits... There is no rush, the political leadership has a plan in place,” the official said. There are six detention centres in Assam, and 10 more are likely to come up.
The previous Lok Sabha had cleared the Citizenship Amendment Bill that seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who came to India before December 31, 2014. There are concerns in the State that the legislation would render the entire exercise futile as it would pave the way for giving citizenship to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh in Assam who came after March 1971, in violation of the Assam Accord signed in 1985.
While introducing the Bill on January 8, the then Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, said, “Assam alone should not have to bear the entire burden and the beneficiaries of Citizenship Amendment Bill can reside in any State of the country ... The burden of those persecuted migrants will be shared by the whole country.”
Present Home Minister Amit Shah made the Centre’s stand clear in the Rajya Sabha on July 1 when he said that the government would bring a Bill in Parliament to provide citizenship to “Hindus refugees” left out of the NRC.
Mr. Shah made the remark in response to a statement of Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien that around 23 lakh Bengali Hindus would lose citizenship after the final NRC is published.