GUWAHATI, August 19: Tribal organizations are opposing the BJP move to include refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan in the draft National Register of Citizens. The conglomeration of 30 tribal and indigenous ethnic groups-Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha (ASM)-is against the inclusion of refugee card holders in the draft saying that it would be tantamount to granting citizenship. It dubbed the attempt a political game by BJP with an eye on the 2019 elections.
The opposition comes at a time when BJP has been advocating inclusion of refugees, especially Hindus who were sheltered in the state between1965 and 1971. Many applicants-with refugee cards-could not make it to the final draft. A refugee card is one of the 14 eligible documents for updating names on NRC.
“Names of only bona fide citizens will find place in the NRC. Refugees are not citizens. Inclusion of refugees in the NRC is like giving them citizenship. It is unconstitutional. BJP had promised it would safeguard the interests of indigenous communities. Now if it supports inclusion of refugees, it would amount to going back on its word,” said ASM working president Motiur Rahman.
ASM is one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court challenging the cut-off date (March 24, 1971) for the detection of foreigners as laid down in the Assam Accord (1985). The case is being heard in the constitutional bench of the apex court.
Indigenous groups like the Deuri Sangram Samiti, Tai Khamti Jatiya Sanmelan and Thengal Kachari Jatiya Sangathan also maintained that the Constitution has no provision to grant citizenship to refugees. BJP on Tuesday, brought up the subject of refugees who were left out of the draft with Union home minister Rajnath Singh.
BJP spokesperson Rajdeep Roy told TOI on Friday that it has also been noticed that people who came as refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan because of persecution back home, were left out of the NRC despite possessing documents proving their migration and stay in relief camps.
The saffron party has demanded that migration-related documents or camp inmate cards be regarded as documents for inclusion of names.
Altogether 40.07 lakh people were left out of the final draft NRC which was released last month. Among those who could not make it to the list included 2.48 lakh people who have been declared foreigners and ‘D’ voters along with their descendants and family members.(TNN)