Indigenous Muslim Survey, NRC Data Offline: Govt’s Intention Questioned
After the success achieved by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in getting the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 passed and now mulling to create a countrywide national register of citizenship (NRC) before 2024 (when the next Lok Sabha elections are slated), the saffron party is now planning to segregate the indigenous Muslim population of Assam from the Bangladeshi Muslims.
The final draft list of NRC conducted in Assam meanwhile, has created another controversy as the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), on Wednesday, said that the NRC data of Assam went offline due to a technical issue on the cloud. Official sources at the MHA clarified that the all Assam NRC data list was deliberated made offline from its website due to non-renewal of contract with the IT firm, Wipro.
With the new development arising over the citizenship identification process in Assam, the opposition and other activists are questioning the government’s intention and are casting doubts that these strategies might be a game for further polarizing the vote banks and re-implementing the national NRC once again in Assam.
Leader of opposition, Debabrata Saikia, talking to G Plus said, “It is another game of the BJP government to polarize the vote banks in Assam. The NRC offline issue raises questions about the government’s intention. Else how can such important data can go missing?”
Senior journalist and social activist, Manjit Mahanta said, “This government will not last long. How will they identify the indigenous Muslims in Assam? What are the criteria? It is just they will waste our money - the tax payers’ money - for increasing their vote banks.”
Recently, state minister Ranjit Kumar Dutta said that in the state budget 2019-20, Rs 100 crores was earmarked for an Indigenous Muslim Development Corporation. He also said that a survey will be conducted to identify the Goria, Moria, Desi and Jhula of the tea tribe community of the state, who are considered to be indigenous. He claimed that this is a serious issue and there will be no entry of people of Bangladeshi origin in this survey. “We will come to know the indigenous Muslims in the survey,” Dutta said.
Even the NRC data going offline is being looked at as a political gimmick. Manjit Mahanta said, “We had said long back that the data should be submitted to the Supreme Court and the apex court would take care of it. The government could play any game for its vested interest.” He added that if the contract was not renewed with the IT company (Wipro), it could have been done after the new NRC coordinator had taken over the charge.
Leader of the opposition, Debabrata Saikia, wrote to NRC state coordinator on Tuesday last (11th February) and said, “It is a mystery as to why the online data should vanish all of a sudden, especially as the appeals process has not even started.”
“There is ample scope to suspect that the disappearance of online data is an act with mala fide intentions. (It) is prima facie deliberate violation of the directive issued by the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” his letter read.
The BJP leaders, time and again, have always opposed the NRC final list as names of many Hindus did not find place in the list.
Meanwhile, an FIR was lodged against Prateek Hajela, the former state coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, for allegedly tampering with data and records associated with final list of NRC which was published on August 31 last year.
The FIR was lodged with the CID of Assam Police on Tuesday by Assam Public Works (APW), the original petitioner in the Supreme Court leading to the NRC updation process.
Sources close to Hajela, talking to G Plus, said that the APW had already alleged all these before the Supreme Court. The court is monitoring the entire process. Therefore, if anything has to be answered it will be answered to the Court by Hajela.
The sources also said that the data cannot go missing. The link is suspended because the contract is not renewed. Once it is renewed, the data will be visible. “The new coordinator can easily renew the contract if he wants,” the source expressed.
Whatever be the game or politics, the citizens of Assam who applied for NRC and after a lengthy process and got the results about their citizenship status are now confused about the discretion of the entire NRC process.