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Assam CM meets Rajnath on citizenship issue

Assam Chief Minster Sarbananda Sonowal met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday to apprise him of the ongoing work on updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the State ahead of the Supreme Court-set deadline of December 31.

The NRC is supposed to help the State government identify illegal Bangladeshi migrants who allegedly entered the State after March 25, 1971, the cut off date for migrant settlers to be considered citizens.

However, civil society activists and minority organisations have pointed out that the process of citizenship verification is not flawless.

Stick to SC norms

Addressing a seminar in Delhi on the current political situation and the question of citizenship in Assam, CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury urged the Assam government to strictly adhere to the Supreme Court guidelines to update the NRC and warned against dividing people for political mileage.

“The question of citizenship register or NRC was an issue on which the Supreme Court has given very definite guidelines. This is something that has to be adhered very scrupulously and there cannot be any deviation from these guidelines,” said Mr. Yechury.

Civil society activists also point out that a Gauhati High Court order, rendering identity papers authenticated by village panchayat officials invalid, has added to the confusion.

Unsettling verdict

While Mr. Yechury said the Supreme Court’s original guidelines accepted panchayat documents as legal documents, eminent scholar from Assam, Prof Hiren Gohain, said the High Court ruling has resulted in “widespread panic”.

“As many as 27 lakh women, most of them married, suddenly begin to feel insecure. There appears to be some uncertainty as whether they are to be regarded as suspect aliens or citizens whose citizenships claims are yet to be established,” said Prof Gohain.

The High Court order has been challenged in the Supreme Court and the top court is expected to give its verdict by November 22.

Professor Apurba Kumar Baruah, Academic Director of Institute of Social and Regional Development (ISCARD), and formerly with the School of Social Sciences at the Shillong-based North East Hill University said the activists and scholars did not want to influence the judicial process but pointed out the complexities that revolve around the issue of identity politics in Assam.

Academic-turned-politician Yogendra Yadav alleged that the ruling BJP was “trying to give a religious interpretation to the issue of citizenship” and urged people to closely follow the citizenship debate in Assam as it concerned the idea of India.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 1:31:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/assam-cm-meets-rajnath-on-citizenship-issue/article20393234.ece

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