India, Sept. 8 — Eight days after the final list of National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam was released, Union home minister Amit Shah said on Sunday that no ‘infiltrator’ will be allowed to stay in India.
Shah made the comment while addressing the 68th plenary session of North Eastern Council (NEC) here during his first visit to Assam since the final NRC was published on August 31.
“Many people are raising different kinds of questions about it (NRC). I want to make it clear that not a single ‘ghuspethiye’ (infiltrator) would be allowed by Indian government to stay here. It is our resolve,” he said stating that NRC was completed in a “time-bound manner“.
The NRC, which was first prepared for Assam in 1951, was updated under directions and monitoring of the Supreme Court in a bid to identify illegal immigrants who have entered the state or are residing here.
A total of 33 million persons had applied to be included in the list in 2015. When the final NRC was released, 1.9 million of them had been excluded from the list.
While the list has been denounced by many for being biased, several organizations in Assam as well as the ruling BJP have said that the figure of exclusion was low. There have been demands from others states, including from the northeast, to implement NRC there as well.
The two-day 68th plenary session of NEC is being attended by Governors, chief ministers, MPs and senior bureaucrats and police officers of all 8 states in the region.
The union home minister also reiterated that Article 371 of the Constitution, which accords special provisions for several northeastern states, won’t be tampered with.
“It is unfortunate opposition parties tried to give the impression that Article 371 (which gives special provisions to NE states) will also be removed,” said Shah.
“I had clarified in parliament that no such thing will happen, but since I am in Assam for the first time after that, I will make it clear that while Article 370 was a temporary provision, Article 371 is not temporary, but the special provision. We won’t tamper with Article 371,” he added.
In his address, Shah accused the former Congress governments in Centre as well as in the northeast of not doing enough for development of the region and listed initiatives taken since 2014, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office in New Delhi.
“The period from 2014 to 2019 has been a golden one for development of northeast. If we compare, NE’s development in the past 5 years to all the years since Independence, we find that there’s been more progress in past 5 years than the previous years,” Shah said.
“None of the 8 chief ministers sitting here today is from the Congress. It shows that in past 5 years there has been a new vision and basic change in looking at development of NE,” he added.
Shah urged chief ministers to find ways to end border disputes between the states in the region, assured that all 8 state capitals will have air and rail connectivity by 2022 and informed that of the 558 projects under NEC, 352 have been completed.
“In 2000, 289 security personnel died in the region in terrorist-related incidents while in 2018 the figure came down to 14. During the same year, 907 civilians were killed, while in 2018 the number was 23,” he said.
“We welcome all existing outfits who are willing to give up arms and join the mainstream, but there would be zero tolerance for those who carry arms,” Shah added.
“NEC’s budget when the Congress was in power at the time of the 13th Finance Commission was Rs 3376 crore. When Prime Minister Modi came to power, the budget was increased to Rs 5053 crore during the 14th Finance Commission,” Shah said.
Responding the Shah’s statements, senior Congressman and leader of opposition in Assam assembly Debabrata Saikia accused the BJP of creating hype without doing anything concrete for the region.
“It has been reported that during the BJP’s rule, allotted funds for NEC have not been released completely. Most development work in northeast is due to Congress’s contribution. Shah’s comments are only for public consumption, but are far from the truth,” he said.