Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will make NRC useless: AGP, Gogoi demands ‘white paper’ on foreigners; says NRC Cong’s baby

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HT Bureau

Guwahati, Aug 6: Asom Gana Parishad, an ally of the ruling BJP in Assam, on Monday said the ongoing updating process of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be of no use if the Centre passes the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

AGP president and agriculture minister Atul Bora said that the Foreigners (Amendment) Order, 2015, and the Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules, 2015, are “back-handed means” of the Centre to grant citizenship to foreigners of “certain religions” staying in the country illegally.

“If the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, is passed, the exercise of updating the NRC will be of no use,” Bora alleged at a press conference here.

“The central government is trying to grant Indian citizenship to people of certain religions, claiming that they are facing religious persecution in their homelands. The AGP strongly protests any such attempt and we will stop such attempts at any cost,” he said.

The AGP, Bora said, has been in talks with other parties like the Shiv Sena, who have presence in the Parliament, over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. “We will foil any attempt to make it into a law.”

Bora further said an AGP team, led by its working president and water resources minister Keshav Mahanta, met the NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela and submitted a memorandum demanding an error-free NRC, touted to be a proof of Assamese identity.

“We want an error-free NRC in which name of no foreigner is included and name of no genuine citizen is excluded. The Supreme Court is monitoring the process and we are hopeful of such a genuine document,” he said.

Asked to comment on West Bengal chief minister’s strong opposition to the NRC complete draft, Bora said, “Politicians like Mamata Banerjee should refrain from trying to create a divide between the people for the sake of vote bank.”

The Assam government should deal sternly with such people trying to create tension, he added.

Gogoi seeks White Paper on deportation of foreigners

Meanwhile, amidst an ongoing controversy over the NRC, former chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday asked the Narendra Modi government to publish a ‘white paper’ on the number of foreigners it has detected and deported during its four-year rule.

The senior Congress leader also claimed that the NRC, being updated in Assam, was conceived by his government in 2005, but the BJP has been trying to hijack it for political gain.

“I demand that the government publish a white paper on how many foreigners were detected and deported in last four years and what action have been taken to seal the border (with Bangladesh). We want a clear picture,” he said at a press conference here.

Gogoi said it was the Congress government under him that had first launched the process of updating the NRC and set up a committee under the chairmanship of the then minister Bhumidhar Barnman in 2005.

He said that in that committee, the then minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is now a minister in the state’s BJP government, was a member.

Another sub-committee, headed by Sarma, was also constituted in 2007 to expedite the NRC updation process. “The NRC is my baby, the Congress’s baby. We are the natural father. (Narendra) Modi is the foster father. We want the NRC to be implemented in a just and fair manner. All genuine Indians must be included in the NRC,” he said.

The former chief minister said the draft NRC, which was published on July 30 and excluded names of over 40 lakh residents of the state, did not give any indication how many foreigners were found in the exercise. “Till now there is no idea about foreigners”.

“On one hand the government is saying we could not describe anyone as foreigner and on the other hand BJP president Amit Shah is saying that they were all illegal immigrants. This is a complete contrary view,” he said.

Blasting BJP president Amit Shah for his reported comments that the 40 lakh people excluded from the draft NRC were “illegal immigrants”, Gogoi said how did he know that all were foreigners when there was no data on it.

Shah had described the NRC as the soul of the Assam Accord but at the same time his party is the architect of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which supports citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains who have entered India till 2014, he said.

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