A booklet published by Bharatiya Janata Party’s West Bengal unit claimed that people of six religions – Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis – will be shielded by the amended citizenship law when the nationwide National Register of Citizens is rolled out, PTI reported on Monday.
“After the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill [CAB], no Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Christian or Parsi will find their name in the D-voter’ [doubtful voters] list,” it read. “The Hindus and Sikhs have their homelands secured.”
The booklet, released by Union minister Babul Supriyo on Sunday, is being circulated to clarify doubts around the Citizenship Amendment Act. It claimed Hindus have been sent to detention centres in Assam not due to NRC but because of the Foreigners Act.
The booklet also claimed that “NRC [National Register of Citizens] is in pipeline after implementation of amended Citizenship Act”. This comes even as both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have denied talks of a nationwide NRC.
The National Register of Citizens’s stated aim is to differentiate between undocumented migrants living in India and genuine Indian citizens. In the NRC exercise in Assam, more than 19 lakh people were left out of the final list of the updated citizens’ database that was published on August 31. The number of people left out comprises around 6% of Assam’s entire population. Those left out can appeal against the decision in foreigners’ tribunals.
In the last page of the 23-page booklet, a question read: “Will there be NRC after this? How much is it needed? And if there is NRC, will Hindus have to go to detention centres like in Assam?” In the answer, the party said, “Yes, there will be NRC after this. At least, that is the intention of the central government.”
The booklet claimed that there are around two crore infiltrators in Assam and West Bengal. “It is needed to enlist these infiltrators as D-voters,” it added. “This only speaks volumes about the problem of infiltration in the country. That is why countrywide NRC is needed.”
The Hindi version of the same booklet, however, does not mention anything on NRC, reported The Indian Express.
The ruling Trinamool Congress leadership said the “truth has come out” after the booklet was published. “The cat is now out of the bag,” party secretary general Partha Chatterjee told PTI. “The truth of BJP has come out. We have been saying that the prime minister and the union ministers have been trying to confuse the people by making contradictory statements on NRC. The people of this state and the country will give them a befitting reply.”
The booklet also triggered angry reactions from the opposition Left parties and the Congress.
“The prime minister is contradicting Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP’s state unit chief is contradicting the prime minister,” Sujan Chakraborty, leader of the Left in the state Assembly, told Hindustan Times. “BJP lies exposed.” Congress’ state unit president Somen Mitra demanded Modi to explain who is speaking the truth.
Claims and counter claims
At a rally in New Delhi on December 22, Prime Minister Modi had said that there has been no discussion on implementing NRC in the country. However, Home Minister Amit Shah has repeatedly spoken about the government’s plan to introduce a nationwide NRC and how it was linked to the citizenship law. On April 11, Shah explicitly connected the two while speaking at an election rally in Raiganj, West Bengal. Again on May 1 at a rally in Bongaon, West Bengal, Shah called infiltrators “termites”, and again explicitly linked the amended citizenship law with NRC.
In December, Shah claimed there was no link between the NRC and the National Population Register after the Cabinet approved funds of Rs 3,900 crore to update the NPR. However, the Census of India website describes the NPR as “the first step towards the creation of a National Register of Citizens”.