Publication of the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will mean an “emotional closure” for many people living in Assam and neighbouring northeastern states, a senior Manipur government official claimed on Wednesday.
Rajat Sethi, advisor to the Manipur chief minister, said this during an interactive session here organised by city-based think-tank Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS).
However, Angshuman Choudhury, a researcher, South East Asia Research Programme, IPCS, countered his argument, saying, publication of the list would result in “more tension and fissures” among the people in Assam.
The NRC is being updated in Assam with March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date for legitimate claim to Indian citizenship.
The final list of the NRC will be published by December this year, the Home Ministry had said on July 30.
The declaration had come on a day the draft NRC, a list of Assam’s citizens, was published with exclusion of 40.7 lakh out of a total 3.29 crore applicants.
The NRC revision has rocked Assam since the publication of the draft. Incidentally, Choudhury, who was born in Assam, said, her mother is “out of the list”.
When asked by an audience member if there was any link between the NRC exercise and the 2019 general elections, Sethi said, “I don’t see any link. The exercise has its own purpose, and everything should not be seen through a political lens.”
“The entire region is under duress, there is claustrophobia and other stares are on the vigil as it is a vital exercise” he said.
“But, the NRC list would also mean emotional closure, a ray of hope, to others in the region as well,” Sethi said.
The NRC is being updated to identify illegal immigrants in Assam bordering Bangladesh. Assam is the only state in the country having an NRC which was first prepared in 1951.
Choudhury said, “Many groups have referred to the emotional closure aspect, even those critical of it... But, there is deep-seated, long-standing bias. We would need much more ground action, in terms of bridging the gap.”
He argued that the publication of the list, on the other hand, would “aggravate tension and fissures in Assam, of some citizens as being dominant, and other as second-class citizens”.