Rajat Sharma

Instead of politicizing, Opposition should trust SC and wait for final NRC draft

akbA raging debate is on between BJP and Opposition over the detection of more than 4 million foreigners after the second and final draft of National Register of Citizens was made public on Monday in Assam. The opposition parties, particularly Congress and Trinamool Congress, are alleging that people belonging to a particular religion have been deliberately left out from NRC.

India TV on Tuesday telecast soundbites of local people in Dhubri, Assam, whose names are missing from NRC. Most of them are Hindus. This negates the allegation that only Muslims in Assam have been targeted. The reality is that illegal immigrants from Bangladesh are being identified in Assam, and that too, on the direction of Supreme Court, which has prepared guidelines for detection. So, there is very little scope of politicizing the issue.

As far as lacunae in NRC are concerned, manual verification of an estimated 3.30 crore people in Assam is a gigantic task, and we should understand that those trying to verify documents are human beings too, and they can commit errors. The government has clarified several times that two months’ time will be given for people to file claims. The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the government to prepare SOPs (standard operating procedures) to dispose of these claims, so that the final draft can be published by 31st December this year. Opposition parties may not trust the government, they may not trust the BJP, but they should at least trust the apex court, and instead of politicizing the issue, they should wait for the final publication.

There are no two opinions among major political parties that illegal migrants and foreigners should be detected and sent back, and yet there are no two opinions that almost all political parties are trying to gain political advantage from this issue.

The Congress and TMC believe that those whose names are missing are their supporters, and they are trying to project the entire exercise as anti-Muslim. The BJP, on the other hand, is raising the issues of national security and national resources. Since this is an emotional issue, the BJP believes that this will benefit the party in electoral terms. But to say that people from other states settled in Assam are being identified and will be thrown out, or to say that similar demands for preparing NRC in other states may arise, is not correct. This is not an issue between states. This issue relates to the detection of foreigners staying illegally in India. BJP President Amit Shah is right in alleging that efforts are being made to divert public opinion from the main issue, and some parties are trying to create an atmosphere of fear.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been warning of ‘bloodbath’ and ‘civil war’. She is alleging that efforts are being made to divide the people in the name of NRC. This is politically incorrect, and untenable from the point of view of national security and peace. Mamata Banerjee should understand that if violence does take place, who will be held accountable for making such statements. She is an experienced leader and knows how intemperate remarks can cause harm to the nation.

There is no denying the fact that there are large number of illegal Bangladeshi migrants staying in her home state, West Bengal. Many of these illegal migrants have spread to Bihar, UP, Maharashtra and Delhi. There have been incidents in some states, where some of these illegal migrants carried out crimes and fled to Bangladesh.

Illegal migrants from Bangladesh can cause a big problem in future, and this has to be addressed soon. The Supreme Court has taken a hard decision, and all political parties should sit together and find out viable solutions for sending these foreigners back to their homeland, so that our own citizens get their rights over our national resources.

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