40 lakh immigrants cannot be called ‘illegal’, only judicial scrutiny can establish that: Assam NRC coordinator

The Supreme Court-appointed coordinator for the NRC, Prateek Hajela responded to Amit Shah’s comment on weeding out infiltrators (“ghuspethiye” ) by saying such descriptions were ‘too premature’ and that all 40 Lakh immigrants could not be called ‘illegal’.

In an interview with The Indian Express, he said, “No, we can’t say all these 40 lakh are ghuspethiye. Only a judicial scrutiny can establish whether a person can be called an illegal migrant or not.”

“These people will get another chance to prove their credentials. Then we will come out with a final NRC. The NRC process will be over then. Even after that, whether a person is an illegal migrant or not is something that can be decided only by judicial scrutiny and that is through a certain set of codes, which has been established in Assam… called the Foreigners Tribunal,” Hajela said.

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He said that there could be errors in finalising the draft, as it was a manual process but assured that people would have the opportunity to “object to any entry”.

“They (those in the draft) have been able to establish their credentials before us during rounds of verification that we have carried out. But again, somebody might object to any entry, which he or she thinks is not correct,” Hajela said, in response to a query on whether those in the final draft released on July 30 could be recognized as legal citizens.

Earlier, BJP President Amit Shah at a press conference after the ruckus in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday said that no Indian citizen would be excluded from the NRC list, ANI reported.

“Only after proper investigation will the names be excluded. No Indian citizen will be excluded from the NRC list. This is not the final list, this is just a draft. We’ll take criticism, objections and then finally decide,” he stated.

“People talk about human rights. But don’t Assamese have human rights? When their jobs and opportunities are stolen by illegal immigrants don’t they have human rights. This is not vote bank politics, this is a top priority issue and all party should clear its stand on this issue,”  said Amit Shah.

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On Monday, Union Home Minister of India Rajnath Singh said the draft National Register of Citizens for Assam is completely “impartial” and those whose names are not included shouldn’t panic as they will get an opportunity to prove their Indian citizenship.

The draft NRC was published with the names of about 40 lakh residents not included.

“No coercive action will be taken against anyone. Hence, there is no need for anyone to panic,” he told reporters here.

Even someone whose name is not in the final list can approach the foreigners tribunal, Singh said.

“Some people are unnecessarily trying to create an atmosphere of fear. This is a completely impartial report. No misinformation should be spread. This is a draft and not the final list,” he said.

Earlier, the opposition TMC labeled the NRC list in Assam as ‘inhuman’, creating a ruckus which led to the House being adjourned briefly till 12. The Congress and other opposition members supported the claim.

Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu asked the agitating members to go back to their seats as he was ready for a discussion on the issue.

“Some members met me in my chamber. I have requested the Home Minister (Rajnath Singh) to be present in the House. He is here. Bring order in the House. The Home Minister is ready to respond,” Naidu said.

Some TMC members were heard saying that their party has given notice for adjournment over the issue but Naidu rejected the claim, saying that he has not received any notice.  O’Brian and other TMC members were heard saying that the NRC in Assam is “inhuman”.

In the north-eastern state of Assam, India has published a list which strips four million people of their citizenship. It says the process is to root out hordes of illegal Bangladeshi migrants.

The list, named as the National Register of Citizens (NRC), is a list of people who can prove they came to the state by 24 March 1971, when Bangladesh was created.

The list has sparked fears of targeted hunting towards ethnic minorities in Assam. However, officials have said that no one will face immediate deportation and that the option of an appeal will be available to all.

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