SHILLONG | September 10, 2019:
The Opposition today raised concerns over the expected fall out after 19 lakh people were left out from the final NRC data released by the Assam Government recently even as suggesting on the need to adopt a similar exercise in the Meghalaya.
Participating in the short duration discussion initiated by Congress MLA from Nongpoh, Mayralborn Syiem on this issue on the third day of the Autumn Session, Leader of Opposition, Dr Mukul Sangma said that many of the genuine Indian citizens had been excluded from the NRC.
“This is the saddest thing. Some of genuine citizens of the State who has been married in Assam has been excluded. They have been made foreigners despite being genuine citizens. The Meghalaya Government needs to take up this exclusion of the citizens of the State from NRC seriously,” Dr Sangma said.
He also suggested that there is a need to activate the government machineries to ensure that those excluded from the final list of the NRC do not find their way into the State.
The Leader of Opposition also impressed that the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act, 2016 should be implemented immediately.
“When we proceed ahead with the implementation of this Act we will be able to detect where we need to improve. We must look at whether the legislation passed by the State will be able to withstand the judicial scrutiny,” he said.
According to Dr Sangma, this is an act which is the offshoot of the long draw exercise with the various stakeholders including traditional institutions and the civil societies.
Echoing similar views, senior Congress legislator, Ampareen Lyngdoh said that the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act, 2016 should be made operational.
She also called on the need to identify the areas where empowerment of traditional bodies has to be made while implementing of this Act.
She said that the NGOs are playing the role of vigilantes to check the entry of people from outside after the final data of NRC were released by the Assam Government.
“But I am not sure if they are empowered to exercise as vigilante organisations. Such similar exercises are being carried out by students’ organisations in different parts of the region,” she said.
Initiating a short discussion on this issue earlier, Nongpoh Congress MLA, Mayralborn Syiem suggested that Meghalaya should implement similar exercises like the NRC in Assam to identify the genuine citizens of the State.
“Before the implementation of the NRC, the process of National Population Register (NPR) has to be in put in place to include the genuine and bonafide citizens. If this is not followed then Meghalaya might face similar crisis like in Assam,” Mayralborn stated.
Participating in the short discussion, Congress MLA from Umroi, George B Lyngdoh said that the State and the whole Northeastern region are faced with the largest humanitarian crisis as 19 lakh people were not able to prove their credentials of being citizens of the State.
“This alarming situation was expected ever since Assam had initiated the exercise of NRC. The tribal demography would be disturbed if steps are not being taken to contain those who have been left to seek refuge in our State,” Lyngdoh said adding that in the various polling stations, the tribal demography has been outnumbered even without the NRC.
“It is high time we empower our tribal institutions. The continue delay in this regard will put the State in a difficult situation to restrain the inflow of people from outside,” Lyngdoh.
Meanwhile, Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma in his reply informed that that a total number of 223 outsiders were detected after the final draft declaration of NRC in Assam.
Out of total 223 outsiders which were detected, he said that a total number of 114 were detected in Byrnihat, 66 in Dainadubi, 05 in Ratacherra and 03 in Khliehriat. “All those who were detected were pushed back to the places of origin since they could not produce original valid documents,” Sangma informed.
He also said that he had raised with his Assam counterpart about the citizens from the State who were excluded from the NRC.
On the demand of implementation of NRC in Meghalaya, he said that the Citizenship Naturalisation and Aliens is entry 17 in list of 7 Schedule of the Constitution of India.
“This means that the Central Government alone can make laws on the subject of citizenship. The State Government has no power to make such laws. The State has no legislative competence to make any law on NRC and citizenship. The State Government has no executive power to bring NRC in the state” Meghalaya Chief Minister said.
He said that the issue of NRC is something that the MDA Government is equally concerned about. “I have raised this issue at the Central level as well as with my counterpart in Assam about the fall out about the NRC. We need to find a solution to protect our people,” Sangma said.
He however informed that the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act, 2016 is already in implementation adding that the different task force for implementation of the Act have been strengthened.
“We have also started the exercise to sensitize the different of stakeholders, civil societies and traditional institutions on how they could participate in the effective implementation of the Act,” he said.
Sangma said that there is also a request to strengthen the resident act and give more teeth. “We are still holding consultation on the need to strengthen the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act, 2016,” Sangma added.