Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Monday strongly pitched for a strong immigration policy in the country and rolling out of NRC updating process in all states for tackling the menace of rampant illegal migration.
He said National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a tool for making the distinction between a bona fide Indian citizen and a foreigner, said Sonowal while speaking at the seminar on the topic “NRC: Defending the Borders, Securing the Culture” organized by Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini at the Constitution Club, New Delhi.
Highlighting the need for updating the NRC, Sonowal said large-scale migration into the state has threatened to alter the very identity of the Assamese community.
“During 1901 and 1971, Assam’s population increased from 32.90 lakh to 146 lakh, which is 343.77 per cent increase when the population of India had increased by only about 150 per cent. This is clearly the result of illegal migration,” he stated.
Asserting that infiltration cannot be allowed to go unchecked, the Chief Minister reiterated that the NRC process in Assam can be a model across the country for tackling the problem of illegal migration.
He said the Draft NRC has come out through a legal process and the State and Central Governments are doing their constitutional duties under directions of the Supreme Court.
He thanking the Prime Minister for according top priority to sealing the Indo-Bangla international border. Sonowal said that to plug vulnerable gaps along India’s borders, a ‘smart fence’ project has been rolled out in Assam on a riverine stretch with Bangladesh.
“The problem of illegal migration can be solved permanently once the border gets completely sealed,” he commented.
“It is also imperative to update the NRC in the rest of the country to ensure that immigrants in the state do not find shelter in any other part of India. Otherwise, the ongoing exercise in Assam will be futile,” he said.
Pointing out that Assam accounts for just a fraction of the total number of illegal immigrants in the country, Sonowal said that Census reports showed that population increase is far beyond the national average in some states of the country during last few decades.
“This explains the intensity of influx of illegal immigrants in the country where even the national capital city Delhi and other metropolitan cities have started experiencing its perils,” he remarked.
Allaying apprehensions and accusations that NRC is a politically motivated exercise against a particular section, Sonowal pointed towards peaceful environment in the state in the aftermath of draft NRC publication as a clear indication of people cutting across religious, linguistic divides extending full cooperation to publication of the draft.
He said Citizenship Rules provide that any person who is not satisfied with the outcome of claims and objections can appeal in the Foreigners’ Tribunal.
“There is no question of anyone being put in a detention centre after the publication of NRC, as rumoured by certain vested interest groups,” he said.