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Genuine Indian citizens not included in NRC draft need not panic: Assam CM Sonowal

People who have been included in draft NRC must help genuine citizens who names were left out, says Assam Chief Minister in interview.

india Updated: Aug 01, 2018 19:46 IST
Utpal Prashar, Hindustan Times, Guwahati
NRC,Assam,National Register of Citizens
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal speaks at a press conference in Guwahati on May 24, 2018.(Rajib Jyoti Sarma/ HT Photo)

The names of four million applicants were missing when Assam published the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) on Monday, worrying those excluded and prompting the Opposition to accuse the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led governments at the Centre and in the state of targeting particular groups. Assam has remained calm though. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, in an interview to Utpal Parashar, talked about the way ahead for those left out of the draft.

What’s is the situation across Assam now following the publication of the final draft of the NRC?

The overall situation in Assam, both in Brahmaputra and Barak valleys, after publication of complete draft of the NRC, is completely peaceful. People in the state cutting across all castes and tribes, religious, linguistic divides have welcomed the draft and exhibited a great sense of unity and harmony.

What would be your appeal to people, both whose names have appeared in the NRC draft and those who have been left out?

All genuine Indian citizens whose names are not included in this NRC draft do not need to panic as no one will be treated as a foreigner. Ample opportunity will be given to the applicants to prove their eligibility for inclusion in the final NRC through claims and objections. Meanwhile, people whose names have featured in this complete NRC draft must take the responsibility of helping those genuine Indian citizens whose names aren’t included in the draft-- so that they can get themselves registered in the NRC.

The Centre and the state governments have been accused of manipulating the NRC process with a political agenda in mind. What would be your reply to those charges?

The NRC updation process has been carried out under the direct supervision of the honourable Supreme Court of India and the active role of the Registrar General of India along with joint cooperation of the Central and the state governments. Around 55,000 officials of the state government relentlessly worked to ensure successful publication of the complete draft. This has been performed as a national duty with utmost dedication and commitment.

There is still lack of clarity on what will happen to those among the four million applicants (who failed to make it to the final draft) who are left out of the final list to be published on December 31.

The NRC updation has been carried out under direct supervision of the honourable Supreme Court of India and all future steps in this regard would be taken as per direction of this apex court.

You are seen as a ‘Jatiya Nayak’ or hero for all Assamese people for your role in getting the contentious Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act (IMDT Act) repealed by the Supreme Court in 2005. What are your thoughts on the complete NRC draft and the road ahead to protect the rights of indigenous Assamese and also to put an end to the influx of illegal immigrants to the state?

The NRC draft is a historic document and it will emerge as a powerful means to safeguard the interest of the people of Assam in the days to come.

There was lot of opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act in Assam as it proposes to grant citizenship to religious minorities from neighbouring countries including Bangladesh. Do you feel publication of the complete draft has helped the BJP as well as the state government in improving its image among the residents of Assam?

The NRC updation process has been carried out keeping in mind the interests of the genuine Indian citizens of the state. It is performed as a national duty, which is of paramount importance for safeguarding their interests. The BJP-led coalition government of Assam is deeply committed to the cause of the people of the state and upholding their interests.

First Published: Aug 01, 2018 19:40 IST