Allies, opposition express concern after Amit Shah’s pan-India NRC statement

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Nov.Thu,19/12:51:50 AM

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Union Home Minister Amit Shah, on November 20, told the Rajya Sabha that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process will be carried out across the country.

Shah assured that no discrimination will be made on the basis of religion.

“The process of NRC will be carried out across the country. No one, irrespective of their religion, should be worried. It is just a process to get everyone under the NRC,” Shah said replying to a supplementary during Question Hour in the Upper House.

In Assam, the NRC process was carried out as per Supreme Court of India (SC)’s order, he said, and added that when the updating process will be implemented in the entire country, Assam will also be included.

In BJP-ruled Assam, the state’s Finance Minister and senior party leader Himanta Biswa Sarma said his government has requested the Centre to reject the recently published NRC. He said even the party has urged the Union home minister to dismiss the NRC in its current form.

Sarma maintained that Assam government favoured one national NRC with one cut-off year for the entire country.

“If the cut-off year is 1971, then it should be the same for all states… We are not asking to scrap the Assam Accord,” he added.

However, political parties in various parts of the country spoke out against the move.

West Bengal

Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee assured people she will never allow such a citizen register in the state.

“There are few people who are trying to create disturbances in West Bengal in the name of implementation of the NRC. I want to make it very clear, we will never allow NRC in Bengal,” Banerjee said while addressing a public meeting in Murshidabad district.

Launching an attack on the BJP, Banerjee said before talking about implementing NRC in West Bengal, the saffron party should answer why 14 lakh Hindus and Bengalis were omitted from the final NRC list in Assam.

Bihar

BJP ally Janata Dal (United)’s Vice President and political strategist Prashant Kishor tweeted, “15-plus states with more than 55 percent of India’s population have non-BJP chief ministers. Wonder how many of them are consulted and are on board for NRC in their respective states!”

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) had previously opposed the outcome of the final NRC in Assam, with Kishor then describing it as “botched up”.

Kerala

According to a report by The Indian Express, state Minister for Welfare of Minorities and Higher Education KT Jaleel called Shah’s announcement of pan-India NRC as alarming. “When there is a demand for withdrawing the NCR process carried out in Assam, how can the minister go for such a nationwide rollout of the process? I understand he also stated that all non-Muslims, who have come from other countries, will be given citizenship. It is difficult to grasp that approach to exclude Muslims, which is not suitable for a secular nation like India.”

Jaleel said migrants from Bangladesh should be accepted as their movement to India shows that they had given importance to cultural identity rather than religious identity. “We have to encourage it. If they had given importance for religious identity, they would not have come to India. They, who had longed for plurality in life, abandoned their religious identity. Hence, they should be kept close to our heart,’’ he added.

The report also quotes Madhya Pradesh minister Arif Aqueel as saying that “the sole intention (of implementing pan-India NRC) is to harass minorities, nothing else”.

This story first appeared on MoneyControl.com on November 21, 2019 here.