Ensure no visitors or settlers from Assam are harassed: Debabrata

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HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Aug 6: With commuters from Assam facing intensive checking in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram post publication of draft National Register of Citizens (NRC), Opposition leader Debabrata Saikia has shot off letters to all chief ministers to ensure that the visitors from Assam to their respective states are not barred from entering or harassed in any way.

The letters come in wake of reports that people from Assam visiting neighbouring states were asked to produce proof of citizenship or rather having their names being included in the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) which was published on July 30.

In the letter, Saikia said that he was quite distressed to see reports about the government machinery of those states, in concert with local students’ organizations, restricting the entry of visitors from Assam and setting deadlines for the exit of long-term inhabitants and treating them like ‘declared foreigners’ following the publication of the final draft NRC in Assam and exclusion of about 40 lakh names from the document.

“It has been acknowledged by all stakeholders, including the state NRC authority, that many out of the 40 lakh omissions from the final draft are the result of technicalities and they are likely to be included in the final NRC after they establish their credentials during the claims and objections phase. This section also includes numerous people who settled in Assam from other states of India but were excluded the final draft because the states of their origin failed to respond in time to verification queries sent by the State NRC authority,” he said.

Saikia reiterated that the Supreme Court had already clarified that those excluded from the final draft of the NRC were not to be treated as foreigners till such time as the claims and objections phase was completed and the final NRC was published. The Supreme Court’s order of July 31, 2018, unequivocally states that “what has been published is only a draft NRC, it cannot be the basis of action by any authority”.

On top of that, Union home minister Rajnath Singh had issued a statement on the eve of the publication of the final draft NRC wherein he categorically stressed: “I want to clarify that even after the final NRC, every person will get an opportunity to approach the Foreigners Tribunal. This means that even those whose names do not figure in the final NRC will get an opportunity to approach the Tribunal,” the letters said.

Saikia requested the chief ministers of the neighbouring states to “ensure that no visitor or settler from Assam is harassed” in their respective state on the mere suspicion that they are illegal migrants.

“Such vigilantism can adversely impact the fraternal bonds between the governments and people of our respective states and create a backlash in the days to come,” he stated.

In order to prevent the situation from deteriorating any further, Saikia through his letters suggested the chief ministers that awareness drives might be launched by the respective state governments among the people of their states regarding the stand of the Supreme Court and the union home minister on the issue of those omitted from the final draft of the NRC.

“This apart, it is also imperative to take the local social and students’ organizations into confidence so that the trend of viewing every person from Assam as an illegal migrant is abandoned forthwith,” added Saikia.

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