The process to make a National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be carried out across India, Home Minister Amit Shah said in the Rajya Sabha on November 20 and whenever it is done, the exercise will be repeated in Assam, he added.
He was replying to a question by Congress MP from Karnataka Syed Nasir Hussain. “The Home Minister while speaking in Kolkata recently had said that all those names which didn’t figure in the NRC, belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Christian community need not worry. My question is whether under NRC citizenship can be granted to certain communities and exclude the Muslims,” Mr. Hussain said.
Mr. Shah said, “I think the member is confused between NRC and Citizenship Amendment Bill. NRC has no provision to exclude any person of any religion. All Indian citizens will be included irrespective of their religion.”
As a supplementary, nominated MP Swapan Dasgupta asked whether the government will make a distinction between illegal migrants and non-citizens? “NRC was undertaken as per the Supreme Court directive. The process will be carried out across the country. No one irrespective of their religion should be worried. NRC doesn’t discriminate against any Indian citizen on the basis of religion. It is just a process to get everyone on the NRC and whenever it is done it is only obvious that it will repeated in Assam too,” Mr. Shah added.
Trinamool Congress MP Sukendu Sekhar Ray pointed out that 11 lakh Hindu Bengalis were excluded from NRC in Assam and will they be granted citizenship without waiting for the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Mr. Shah said the government accepts that refugees — Hindu, Buddhists, Jain, Christians, Sikhs and Parsis — who left Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan due to religious atrocities should get Indian citizenship. And which is why the government will bring a Citizenship Bill, he added.
Congress MP Ripun Bora said 19.6 lakh persons have been dropped from the NRC. It’s been four months since the list was published but the process of appeal has not yet started. The Home Minister said that in Assam, people whose name has not figured in the draft list, have the right to go to the Tribunal. “Tribunals will be constituted across Assam. If any person doesn’t have the money to approach tribunals, then the Assam government will bear the cost to hire a lawyer,” he said.