- Assam Minister said BJP will move top court again to seek reverification
- He found fault with very few exclusions being recorded in border areas
- Over 19 lakh were left out of the citizens list published on Saturday
Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday termed the National Register of Citizens (NRC) list released earlier in the day as "faulty", and said that the ruling BJP will approach the Supreme Court again to seek reverification in certain parts of the state.
"BJP supports the NRC exercise, but we feel that there are certain lacunae that should have been plugged. The centre and the Assam government have requested the Supreme Court to allow 20 per cent reverification in districts that border Assam and 10 per cent in others," the BJP leader told NDTV, adding that the "war" was far from over.
Over 19 lakh people were left out of the NRC list published on Saturday morning, and they are now required to prove their citizenship in order to avoid government action. The exercise, which has been going on years now, was aimed at weeding out illegal migrants who have settled down in the state over the course of decades.
Mr Sarma said that Hindu migrants should not have been left out of the list. "A small portion of Hindu migrants have been left out of the list. They had their own refugee certificates, but that was not taken into account. Anyway, the BJP is committed to passing the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the next parliament session," he added.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill, intended to make it easier for non-Muslim immigrants from neighbouring states such as Pakistan and Bangladesh to become Indian nationals, has been termed as "communal" and "discriminatory" by social activists as well as opposition parties.
Mr Sarma, however, did not subscribe to this view. Claiming that minorities are persecuted in Muslim-majority Pakistan and Bangladesh, he said: "If you believe that giving shelter to Hindu migrants who have been thrown out of the country because of religion is communal, then I don't know what's the definition of communalism and secularism."
He also disagreed with the contention that all refugees should be granted shelter, regardless of religion. "India is not a dharamshala (welfare home), is it?" the Assam Minister asked.
Mr Sarma said that the BJP will approach the Supreme Court again because the rejection of its first appeal on the grounds that 27 per cent reverification had already been completed was based on "incorrect" information. "We will keep rejecting each faulty NRC until Assam and India's interests are secured. The fight will go on," he said.
Allegations that the BJP has rejected NRC list over electoral concerns were also roundly dismissed. "We are not playing vote-bank politics. The vote is already there for Narendra Modi, and we don't have to play politics for it. Whether you do the NRC or not, the people will vote for Narendra Modi," Mr Sarma said.
Meanwhile, the BJP said that it will take steps to protect genuine citizens who have been left out of the NRC list. "If foreigner tribunals pass adverse orders against genuine Indians, we will bring a legislation to help those excluded," news agency PTI quoted the party as saying.