Rajnath reiterates Assam NRC process fair, opposition sceptical (Second Lead)

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New Delhi : Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday assured the Rajya Sabha that there will be no discrimination or harassment in the updation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and reiterated that the entire process has been fair and transparent.

However, the opposition was not convinced with many MPs asking as to how come an overwhelming 40 lakh people - including former MLAs, defence personnel and those from prominent families - were left out. They also wanted to know the government's future course of action.

Responding to a Short Duration Discussion on the issue in the Rajya Sabha, which saw disruptions and adjournments for a couple of days, the Minister said the Central and Assam governments are committed to adding the names of all genuine Indians in the list in a time-bound manner.

He said some people with "vested interests" were trying to create an atmosphere of fear by spreading misinformation on the social media regarding the NRC in an attempt to "internationalise" the issue. This should not be done, he said.

"I am reiterating that it is not the final NRC. It is just a draft NRC. Adequate opportunity will be provided to everyone for making claims and raising objections. Despite this, if anybody's name remains out of the list, he can approach the Foreigners Tribunal," Singh said.

He also assured that there would be no coercive action against anybody in any situation, and added that the entire process was being carried out under Supreme Court's supervision.

"There has been no discrimination, and there will be no discrimination," he said, pointing out that the decision to update it was taken in 2005 by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

After the Home Minister had made the statement, Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Ghulam Nabi Azad demanded to know as to how could so many people be left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) if there was no discrimination.

"The Home Minister has said the process is entirely fair and objective. If that is so, how come persons like a former Indian Air Force personnel is left out? If the entire process has been fair, what is left to be done then?" Azad asked.

Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O'Brien questioned the "dichotomy" over the statements made by the Home Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) chief Amit Shah.

"This is classic double-speak. What is the real voice of the government -- What the Home Minister says here or what the BJP President says outside?" O'Brien said.

Samajwadi Party leader Javed Ali Khan, too, asked how could people like former legislators and the family of former President of India Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed be left out of the NRC in Assam.

Nationalist Congress Party MP Majeed Memon demanded from the Home Minister as to what would happen to those left out even after the revision of the draft list.

Congress MP from Assam Ripun Bora argued that the guidelines for inclusion in the NRC should be "modified and simplified" and the last date -- September 27 -- for submission of claims needs to be extended.

Communist Party of India-Marxist member T.K. Rangarajan too asked for extension of the deadline so that people get sufficient opportunity to get their names included.

Members also expressed concern at the way some people and a section of the media were labelling the 40 lakh left-out people as "infiltrators".