Nation-wide NRC confirmed; Assam will cover FT related expenses for people

The entire nation is in anticipation of the proposed CAB and NRC as their modalities have not been finalised yet and it has created an environment of fear and distress amongst the minorities, especially the Muslim community. Today’s Rajya Sabha session revealed quite a few crucial points as the Muslim community grows more and more anxious.

Amit Shah

In Rajya Sabha today, the Union Home Minster, Amit Shah confirmed, thus making it official, that there will be a nation-wide NRC and that Assam will be included in this whole process, when it takes place. Without specifying the timeline of when NRC will be implemented, he reiterated his government’s views that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Jains, Christians from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh will be provided for in the CAB (Citizenship Amendment Bill). He also said that people excluded from NRC in Assam, who cannot afford travel expenses and lawyer’s fees, the state government of Assam will cover such expenses for them.

The starred question

During the question hour in the Rajya Sabha on November 20, the Union Home Ministry was faced with questions regarding NRC (National Register of Citizens) and CAB (Citizenship Amendment Bill). Many questions were responded to by the Home Minister, Amit Shah himself, in which he made some shocking statements.

The main starred question was asked by Syed Nasir Hussain which was as follows:


The official answer to this question is as follows:

(a) to (c): Preparation of National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) is governed by the provisions of section 14A of The Citizenship Act, 1955 and The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. Section 14A of The Citizenship Act, 1955 provides for compulsory registration of every citizen of India and maintenance of NRIC. The procedure to prepare and maintain NRIC is specified in The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. Citizenship of India can be acquired as provided under The Citizenship Act, 1955. NRIC is a register containing details of Indian citizens. On its own, it does not provide citizenship to any foreigner including illegal migrants. NRIC in respect of State of Assam has been recently prepared under the supervision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Matters like detection of illegal immigrants and subsequent action are governed by the provisions of The Foreigners Act, 1946, The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and The Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939 and rules made thereunder.

The Question hour and its revelations

While some answers seemed to be evasive, there are some significant statements that have been made by the Union Home Minister in Rajya Sabha today with respect to NRC and CAB. First off, he reiterated a few times how NRC is a different process from CAB and there is no connection between the two. He also stated that NRC cannot be discriminative on basis of religion and all true citizens of India will be included in the NRC irrespective of their religion and that nobody belonging to any religion needs to worry about this.

When asked if the government is excluding Muslim immigrants in providing protection, like other communities are being provided, Amit Shah gave an evasive answer saying that CAB has been approved by a Select Committee in Lok Sabha in which there were members from all parties and since the previous CAB has lapsed, it will be passed again and will “come to Rajya Sabha” for consideration this time.

A very pertinent question was asked by Swapan Dasgupta, nominated member of Rajya Sabha, with respect to the government’s Gazette notification dated September 7, 2015 which notified Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules, 2015 and Foreigners (Amendment) Order, 2015. These amendments implied that “persons belonging to minority communities in Bangladesh and Pakistan, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who were compelled to seek shelter in India due to religious persecution or fear of religious persecution and entered into India on or before the 31st December, 2014” who do not possess valid documents such as passport, or these documents have expired, are exempt from provisions of the Passport (Entry into India) Act and Foreigners Act. The question was if the said gazette was applicable to the whole of India, and if so, why is the same not being implemented in Assam.

To this question, Amit Shah said that the gazette notification is applicable to the whole of India without exceptions and that the process of NRC in Assam is under a different Act. He also mentioned that when NRC is implemented throughout India, Assam will also undergo the process.

Sukhendu Sekhar Roy from TMC also asked a question about NRC in Assam and if citizenship will be granted to all genuine Indians who have been left out of NRC. Amit Shah said that NRC does not discriminate on religion but the government does believe that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Jains, Christians are religiously persecuted and hence there is need for CAB so that people belonging to these communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan can be provided for under CAB.

Another question was asked about the more than 19 lakh persons excluded from the NRC in Assam and why the process for appeal has not started for them yet. This question asked by Ripun Bora of INC in Assam was responded to by Amit Shah saying that the excluded persons can go to Foreigners Tribunals. He added that there will be FTs in every tehsil in Assam and those excluded persons do not possess enough money to travel to FTs and cannot afford to pay lawyer’s fees, the Assam government will cover such expenses for them.

When he said that excluded persons can go to FTs it is clear that Amit Shah is unaware of the specificities, as excluded persons are unable to approach the FTs without receiving a reason for rejection.



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