Assam Citizens Register row snowballs (Roundup)

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New Delhi, July 31 (IANS) The controversy over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam snowballed further on Tuesday with BJP President Amit Shah claiming that the NDA government had the courage to do what the Congress lacked on identifying foreigners as West bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee warned of a “bloodbath and civil war” over the BJP’s “attempt to divide people”.

The Rajya Sabha was paralysed on the issue while the Supreme Court stepped into to douse fears that there will be any coercive action on the basis of the final draft that was published on Monday that left out of more than 40 lakh people from the NRC.

The issue rocked the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha with the opposition accusing the ruling party of playing divisive politics ahead of parliamentary elections.

Shah took on the opposition to say that the NRC was a promise made in the Assam Accord signed by late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

“What we have done is in accordance with the Supreme Court directions. We have shown the courage to do what you could not,” he told the opposition members, adding the government was clear on carrying out the process of identifying infiltrators.

Shah, whose remarks accusing the opposition of trying to protect the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants disrupted the Rajya Sabha and forced an adjournment of the House for the day, later dared other parties to clear their stand on Bangladeshi infiltrators.

He said no Indian has been left out of the list. He said the entire process of the NRC was done under the supervision of the apex court and alleged that Congress did not “have the guts to prepare the list and send back the infiltrators”.

Noting that those not in the draft NRC were suspected foreigners, he said: “They will have the opportunity to prove their citizenship.”

Shah accusing Banerjee of indulging in “vote bank politics”.

In the Rajya Sabha, opposition leaders asked the government to address the NRC issue on humanitarian basis.

The House took up a discussion on NRC suspending the Question Hour.

Keeping up her attack on the BJP, Banerjee, who addressed a conclave of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, accused the BJP of trying to divide the people for the sake of votes.

“Only to win the election, only to win the battle, people cannot be victimised. Now they say these people cannot vote also. If they don’t vote, if their list doesn’t exist, don’t you think they will lose their identity,” Banerjee said. There were also people from Bihar, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu whose names were not in the NRC, she added.

“The situation cannot be tolerated. There will be a civil war, bloodbath in the country,” she warned.

The Chief Minister alleged that the exercise was being carried out with a political motive.

In Guwahati, former Assam Chief Minsters Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and Tarun Gogoi slammed Banerjee.

Mahanta said the complete draft NRC was not against the Bengalis and Muslims. “Mamata Banerjee is trying to use the issue for political gains, which is not justified.”

Gogoi advised Banerjee to rather concentrate on West Bengal politics, saying “there is no question of harassment of genuine Indian citizens in the name of NRC updation”.

In Lucknow, BSP supremo Mayawati slammed the Modi government over the NRC.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said the final draft of NRC cannot be the basis for any coercive action by any authority.

“What has been published is a complete draft NRC. It can’t be the basis for any action by any authority,” said a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman as Attorney General K.K. Venugopal pointed to the serious human problem.

The court was informed by the Attorney General that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) giving the modalities for dealing with the claims and procedures will be prepared by the concerned ministry by August 15.

Fixing August 16 as next date of hearing, the bench observed that the SOP must be fair.

The draft NRC would be open for inspection till August 7. Thereafter, from August 8, training of officials to deal with the claims and objection would commence.

The filing of the claims and the objections would commence from August 30 and will last till September 28.



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