Fresh law to enable nation-wide NRC soon, says Himanta Biswa Sarma

Himanta Biswa Sarma. File  

Assam’s Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said Union Home Minister Amit Shah has indicated that after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is cleared by Parliament, there will be a fresh legislation for preparing a pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC) with a uniform cut-off date.

Mr. Sarma, who participated in a series of meetings chaired by Mr. Shah with several groups from the Northeast on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, (CAB) in Delhi, told The Hindu that the 1971 cut-off date used in Assam’s NRC could be modified to synchronise with rest of the country. He added that the NRC would be repeated in Assam.

The Bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to six non-Muslim communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.

There has been a strong resistance to the CAB in BJP-ruled Assam and other northeastern States as it would pave the way for giving citizenship, mostly to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh in Assam who settled here, post March 1971, the cut-off date for inclusion in Assam’s NRC as per the 1985 Assam Accord. Nearly 19 lakh people were excluded from the final NRC that was published on August 31 and the Bill seeks to negate the NRC process, critics say.

Mr. Sarma said the Assam Accord was not a statutory document and the discussion was independent of the Accord. “Whether it is 1951, 1961 or 1971, the cut-off date for inclusion in NRC should be the same for Assam and the rest of the country. The Supreme Court had no issue with the 1971 cut-off date. It was prescribed as per the Citizenship Act (1955) and it can be modified by the Act itself or in accordance with law,” he said.

As per Article 6 of the Constitution the cut-off date for migration to India from Pakistan is July 19, 1948 whereas in Assam, that borders Bangladesh, its March 24, 1971.

The Centre has appointed a committee for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord which provides for constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect the culture, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people. It also recommends reserving Assembly seats for indigenous communities of Assam. Mr. Sarma said the report of the committee was awaited and the discussions were independent of its findings.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 7:07:31 PM |

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