People check their names in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) list during a hearing at a Seva Kendra, in Guwahati in May 2019. (PTI file Photo)
Guwahati, August 31 (IANS): Thirty four years after the Assam Accord was signed, there is euphoria over the publication of the final list of National Register of Citizens (NRC) among those who have been demanding it.
"It has been a long journey for the people of Assam. We are expecting an illegal foreigners-free correct NRC," said Chief Adviser of the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) Dr. Samujjal Bhattacharyya.
He said the NRC has immense significance for the people of Assam as the state witnessed a six-year-long movement between 1979 to 1985 seeking detection and deportation of illegal Bangladeshis.
"The state has seen 855 young men and women sacrificing their lives and embracing martyrdom due to this six-year-long anti-foreigner movement," he said.
The NRC is a process being monitored by the Supreme Court.
"The process has given ample time and opportunity to everyone to prove their Indian citizenship. The people of Assam had taken enough burden of illegal infiltrators till 1971. The massive influx threatened the rights of indigenous people by changing the demography," said Bhattacharyya while adding that the NRC is definitely the first step to make Assam free of the illegal foreigners.
The All Assam Minority Students' Union (AAMSU) also welcomed the NRC and said a correct NRC is the need of the hour.
"There has been harassment of people, particularly one religious minority community, in the name of updation of the NRC. However, we want a correct NRC so that the Bengali-speaking Muslims, who are often branded as Bangladeshis in Assam, get relief once their names are there in the NRC," said AAMSU General Secretary Abdur Rahma Biswas ahead of publication of the final NRC.
He, however, appealed to the people not to be scared. "Those people whose names do not figure in the NRC will neither be arrested and branded as foreigners. Those people have to approach the Foreigners' Tribunals within 120 days and claim their citizenship again," Biswas said.
There is also a difference of opinion among the Assam government and the state's ruling BJP over the NRC. While Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal recently termed the to-be-published final NRC as a historic document, state BJP President Ranjit Kumar Dass said the party does not believe that the NRC is going to be an error-free document.
Dass said the party is not happy with the way the NRC is being updated. "We do not believe that the NRC is going to be an error-free document. NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela has been working as per his whims and fancies and this is the reason why we are getting an NRC full of names of illegal foreigners and with exclusion of names of genuine Indian citizens," he said.
The draft NRC, which was published last year, excluded names of 40,07,707 people from the document due to some discrepancies in their documents. Over 36 lakh of them have applied afresh to get their names included in the final NRC.