• Monday, Aug 26, 2019
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A grand waste of money

  • Published at 12:01 am April 17th, 2019
Will she have to prove her citizenship? REUTERS

Assam’s National Register of Citizens is an exercise in futility 

Irrefutably, the process of the National Register of Citizens update in Assam is an inconsistent practice, and is reasonably unfounded.

It was first adopted in 1951 following a census held in the same year, which implies that Indians will have to prove their citizenship once more in Assam. Applicants whose names have already appeared in the complete draft NRC, which was released on July 30 last year, have once again proved their citizenship.

However, the NRC includes all genuine Indian citizens residing in India, and not merely in Assam. Prateek Hajela, the man behind this move, has built the NRC team, which involves more than 45,000 state government officials and thousands of workers on a contractual basis based out of Assam.

However, the NRC team should have been appointed from the central government to verify all the relevant documents, hence, the process should not be carried out by the local natives.

Reportedly, millions of illegal migrants live in all parts of India, and Assam has not even borne the brunt of it. Even West Bengal has experienced waves of illegal migrants more than Assam.

Humanity supersedes the concept of nationality. Hence, both the central and state governments must consider their humanity while verifying one’s citizenship. As Indians, we firmly believe in the theory of universal brotherhood, and we are the follower of the Sanskrit phrase “vasudhaiva kutumbaka” (the whole world is one family).

Our nation should be generous towards the citizenship rules.

The NRC contains the names of citizens who have been residing in Assam before March 25, 1971. Certainly, the process creates terrible services, and repulsive management. People in Assam fear the NRC process itself, and they are depressed and feel helpless.

They are called into NRC hearings from their homes to remote sectors in the state. Applicants whose names have already been included in the complete draft NRC are also being called to appear at the hearing, which has led to major harassment of the poor and illiterate people.

How many times do they need to prove their legitimacy as citizens? The working class people who don’t have enough food to eat -- how can anyone expect them to move around so frequently in order to make the NRC hearings? It’s pathetic.

Interestingly, the family of a freedom fighter in Assam, prominent cultural figures, the kith and kin of Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, the former president of the nation, Assam police officials, and many others are struggling to prove their citizenship.

In the case of the government employees, they have to submit all relevant documents at the time of their appointment, including police verification, and those who have been residing in Assam for several years and had cast their vote in Assam, I wonder why they need to prove once again that they are bona fide Assamese residents.

As per the central government, there is a need for passing the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016. If so, the NRC will become a grand waste of money, paper, and resources.

In that case, why did the Union Cabinet approve of the NRC? It has cost Rs1,220.93 crore up until December 31, 2018. The government has polarized Indians over religious lines. Over 18 people have committed suicide for not being able to find their names on the draft list of the NRC so far.

Who will take the blame for all this? 

Mithun Dey writes from Assam.