The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Ranjan Gogoi has strongly defended the current exercise of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, saying prior to it there was 'guesswork' on the number of illegal immigrants in the state that 'had fueled panic, fear and vicious cycle of lawlessness and violence' and it would be a base document for the future.
Mr. Justice Gogoi, an apex court bench which is monitoring the process of NRC in Assam, was also critical of 'arm chair commentators' who, he said, are not only far away from the ground reality but also present a highly distorted picture due to which Assam and its development agenda have taken a hit.
The Chief Justice, who hails from Assam, said the NRC is neither a 'new or a novel idea' as it found expression as early as in 1951 and the current exercise is an attempt to update the 1951 NRC.
'The NRC is not without contestations. Let me take this occasion to clarify. The NRC is neither a new nor a novel idea. It finds expression as early as in the year 1951 and in particular context of Assam in year 1985 when the Assam accord was signed. In fact, the current NRC is an attempt to update the 1951 NRC,' said Mr. Justice Gogoi, who was addressing a gathering in New Delhi during inauguration of a book, ‘Post Colonial Assam (1947-2019)’ authored by journalist Mrinal Talukdar.
He said prior to this exercise enormous amount of guesswork was there regarding number of illegal immigrants which 'in turn fueled panic, fear and vicious cycle of lawlessness and violence'.
He lamented that 'careless' and 'irresponsible reporting by a few media outlet only worsened the situation'.
'There was an urgent need to ascertain some degree of ascertaining on the number of illegal immigrants which the current exercise envisages. Nothing more and nothing less. The entire exercise is nothing but a manifestation of one of the most peaceful means by which stake holders seeks to remedy the wrong and omissions of that turbulence whose effects changed the course of the life of not only individuals but of communities and culture across the region,' he said.
The Chief Justice praised the citizens of Assam for displaying great magnanimity and large heartedness in accepting various cut-off dates for the purpose of preparation of the NRC. The updated final the NRC in Assam was released on August 31, excluding names of over 19 lakh applicants.
A total of 3,30,27,661 people had applied to be included in the NRC, and of these 3,11,21,004 have been included in the document and 19,06,657 excluded.
The names of 1.9 crore people were published as part draft NRC on the midnight of December 31, 2017.