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Unlocking Biometrics Post Citizenship (Amendment) Act

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma Announces Clarity and Progress in NRC Process

Prabhat Kunwar

Kolkata: In a recent development from Guwahati, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has articulated a newfound clarity following the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA). This clarity has set the stage for the commencement of unlocking biometrics that were frozen during the update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The Chief Minister’s statement comes as a beacon of hope for approximately 27 lakh individuals whose biometrics were locked, rendering them unable to obtain Aadhaar cards and, by extension, access to various services. The unlocking process is expected to alleviate the difficulties faced by these residents in obtaining ration cards, securing employment, and accessing other government services.

The CAA, which aims to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan who arrived in India before December 31, 2014, has been a subject of intense debate and scrutiny. In Assam, the act takes on additional significance due to its interlink with the NRC, a Supreme Court-monitored exercise that excluded 19 lakh out of 3.4 crore applicants.

Chief Minister Sarma has reassured the public that the CAA will not lead to an influx of new applicants into Assam, stating that only those who had previously applied for the NRC will be considered for citizenship. He emphasized the need for the populace to rely on sound logic rather than emotion when discussing the CAA and its implications.

The Assam government’s approach to resolving the biometric lock issue involves discussions with the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and other stakeholders. The Chief Minister expressed optimism that a solution would be reached soon after the elections, marking a significant step towards resolving a long-standing issue that has affected millions.

The NRC update, a fallout of the Assam Accord signed in 1985, was aimed at identifying illegal immigrants in the state. However, the process has been fraught with controversies and challenges, leaving many genuine citizens in a state of limbo. The CAA’s implementation and the subsequent unlocking of biometrics are expected to bring some resolution to the matter.

The Chief Minister’s announcement has been met with mixed reactions. While some view it as a positive move towards rectifying the issues stemming from the NRC update, others remain sceptical about the CAA’s impact on the demographic and cultural landscape of Assam.

As the state prepares to unlock biometrics, the focus is on ensuring that the process is smooth and that the rights of genuine citizens are safeguarded. The Assam government’s handling of this sensitive issue will be closely monitored by both national and international observers.

The situation in Assam is a reflection of the complexities involved in addressing citizenship and migration issues. The state’s experience serves as a case study for the rest of the country, highlighting the need for policies that are fair, transparent, and sensitive to the concerns of the local population.

The unfolding events in Assam post the implementation of the CAA will have significant implications for the state’s future. The Chief Minister’s commitment to unlocking the biometrics and providing clarity on the NRC process is a step towards resolving the anxieties of many residents. The nation watches with keen interest as Assam navigates through this pivotal chapter in its history.

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