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Citizenship Bill will go against NRC update, Accord: Pillai

By R DUTTA CHOUDHURY

GUWAHATI, Jan 7 - Infiltration of foreigners to India is a national problem and Assam alone should not be allowed to take the burden of foreigners, said former Union Home Secretary GK Pillai. He also admitted that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 would go against the Assam Accord and the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Pillai pointed out that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill violates the Assam Accord, which said that the foreigners who came into Assam after the midnight of March 24, 1971 would be detected and deported. He said that the BJP came to power in Assam with the promise of implementing the Assam Accord, while, as a former president of the All Assam Students� Union (AASU), Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was expected to play a major role in implementing the Accord.

The former Home Secretary said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill should be kept in abeyance till some major political issues are resolved. He said that a small state like Assam should not be given additional burden of foreigners and if the Government is keen on giving shelter to foreigners, they should be distributed in all parts of the country. He said that the Citizenship Bill, NRC and Clause 6 of the Assam Accord are all inter-related the Government should not try to pass the Bill in haste.

Pillai admitted that it would not be possible to deport all the foreigners living in India and the Government has to chalk out strategies to deal with the problem. �India is a big country and if the Government is keen on giving shelter to foreign nationals, it would have to adopt a strategy to relocate them in all states of the country. A small state like Assam should not be given the burden of foreigners irrespective of their religion,� he added. He also said that the Bill should be kept in abeyance till such decisions are taken.

Pillai admitted that the Citizenship Bill would contradict the NRC. The NRC is being prepared with the midnight of March 24, 1971 as the cut off date and by Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the Government is trying to give citizenship to persons, who came to India after that date. In such a scenario, the whole exercise of updating the NRC would be wasted, he added.

Replying to a question on the Government's move to constitute a committee to suggest measures to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, Pillai said, �it seems like the Government is trying to give a lollypop to the people to get the Citizenship Bill passed. Though six months have been given to the Committee to submit its report, our experience says that its difficult for such committees to submit report within the stipulated time frame because of the complex issues involved. The Government cannot view the issues like updating NRC, Clause 6 of the Accord, updating of the NRC is isolation as the issues are inter-related. The Government should have tried to arrive at political consensus on the connected issues before taking any decision and no step should be taken to push through the Bill at this moment,� he added.

During his tenure in the Home Ministry, Pillai had initiated measures for implementation of the major clauses of the Assam Accord including Clause 6. He admitted that during his tenure as the Joint Secretary (North East), the tripartite sub -committee on Clause 6 of the Accord made some progress through series of discussions. When he became the Union Home Secretary, the sub-committee was revived and talks were initiated. �But I do not know what happened to the sub- committee after my retirement,� he admitted.

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Citizenship Bill will go against NRC update, Accord: Pillai

GUWAHATI, Jan 7 - Infiltration of foreigners to India is a national problem and Assam alone should not be allowed to take the burden of foreigners, said former Union Home Secretary GK Pillai. He also admitted that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 would go against the Assam Accord and the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Pillai pointed out that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill violates the Assam Accord, which said that the foreigners who came into Assam after the midnight of March 24, 1971 would be detected and deported. He said that the BJP came to power in Assam with the promise of implementing the Assam Accord, while, as a former president of the All Assam Students� Union (AASU), Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was expected to play a major role in implementing the Accord.

The former Home Secretary said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill should be kept in abeyance till some major political issues are resolved. He said that a small state like Assam should not be given additional burden of foreigners and if the Government is keen on giving shelter to foreigners, they should be distributed in all parts of the country. He said that the Citizenship Bill, NRC and Clause 6 of the Assam Accord are all inter-related the Government should not try to pass the Bill in haste.

Pillai admitted that it would not be possible to deport all the foreigners living in India and the Government has to chalk out strategies to deal with the problem. �India is a big country and if the Government is keen on giving shelter to foreign nationals, it would have to adopt a strategy to relocate them in all states of the country. A small state like Assam should not be given the burden of foreigners irrespective of their religion,� he added. He also said that the Bill should be kept in abeyance till such decisions are taken.

Pillai admitted that the Citizenship Bill would contradict the NRC. The NRC is being prepared with the midnight of March 24, 1971 as the cut off date and by Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the Government is trying to give citizenship to persons, who came to India after that date. In such a scenario, the whole exercise of updating the NRC would be wasted, he added.

Replying to a question on the Government's move to constitute a committee to suggest measures to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, Pillai said, �it seems like the Government is trying to give a lollypop to the people to get the Citizenship Bill passed. Though six months have been given to the Committee to submit its report, our experience says that its difficult for such committees to submit report within the stipulated time frame because of the complex issues involved. The Government cannot view the issues like updating NRC, Clause 6 of the Accord, updating of the NRC is isolation as the issues are inter-related. The Government should have tried to arrive at political consensus on the connected issues before taking any decision and no step should be taken to push through the Bill at this moment,� he added.

During his tenure in the Home Ministry, Pillai had initiated measures for implementation of the major clauses of the Assam Accord including Clause 6. He admitted that during his tenure as the Joint Secretary (North East), the tripartite sub -committee on Clause 6 of the Accord made some progress through series of discussions. When he became the Union Home Secretary, the sub-committee was revived and talks were initiated. �But I do not know what happened to the sub- committee after my retirement,� he admitted.

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