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NRC in Uttarakhand, too?

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By ARUN PRATAP SINGH

DEHRADUN, 16 Sep: Following the trend of many BJP ruled states expressing the desire to implement the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Uttarakhand Government too is mulling on doing the same. Such an indication was given by none other than Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat at a function held in Doon today. It may be recalled that Haryana Chief Minister ManoharLal Khattar and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath too have expressed a serious desire to implement the NRC in Haryana and UP, respectively. Rawat is the latest CM to express such a desire. While it was the Congress Government in Assam that had initiated the process of implementing the NRC, which was followed up later by the courts as well, currently, among the national parties, it is only the BJP that has been openly favouring its implementation. Most opposition parties including the Congress are now opposing it, though local politicians of these parties in Assam and some other states like West Bengal and those in the North East are strongly in favour of the NRC. It may be recalled that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register maintained by the Government of India containing names and other relevant information for identification of all genuine Indian citizens. Though the register was first prepared after the 1951 Census of India, it has it has not been updated since then. Assam has become the first state in India where the updation of the NRC has been taken up to include the names of those whose names appeared in the NRC of 1951 and are still alive and/or their presently living descendants have permanent residence in the state. The purpose of the NRC update in the state of Assam was to identify Indian citizens from among all the present residents of the state thereby leading to identification of illegal migrants, who entered it after the midnight of 24 March, 1971. However, the fate of those who would not be able to get their names entered in the register is now a matter under judicial and legislative consideration and more or less uncertain. Although Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat was not very categorical today about the implementation of the NRC and stated he would discuss the issue with his cabinet colleagues, and added that the NRC would be implemented if required, he may be well aware of the fact that it is an emotional issue and could help him garner support of the native Uttarakhandis, should his government decide to go ahead in this direction.However, the key factor is implementation. In Assam, initially 41 lakh persons had found their names missing out of over 3 crores who had applied for inclusion in the NRC and their fate presently is uncertain. But at the same time, despite a large number of those who were left out in the recent NRC, the majority of the native Assamese are still not happy as they feel that most migrants have already been included in the NRC and its very purpose has been defeated. Here lies the danger for the BJP Government in Uttarakhand. If at all implemented, it would be interesting to see if the majority of native Uttarakhandis would be happy with the possible outcome of the NRC and whether they would not feel that a large number of recent migrants managed to get themselves included in it. On the other hand, the migrants are also likely to be unhappy at the prospect of proving themselves to be rightful citizens of Uttarakhand in case of NRC being implemented in Uttarakhand. As a result, the whole exercise may turn out to be a political liability for the BJP Government. Rawat today tried to justify the idea of implementing the NRC in Uttarakhand claiming that being a border state that shares its boundaries with China as well as Nepal, it is strategically a sensitive state and therefore it would be important to keep tab on migrants. It would be pertinent to point out here that while the NRC is being strongly opposed by the Congress party and its governments in various states, a new trend has started now of reservation of majority of lower and middle category of jobs in the government as well as private sector for locals of the state by Congress governments. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is the latest to join the bandwagon by declaring that 75 percent of jobs in the private sector in Rajasthan would be reserved for Rajasthani domiciled persons! Though, a similar rule exists in Uttarakhand, too, it has never been implemented seriously by the private sector here!