The All Assam Students Union has demanded a ban on registrations unless the National Register of Citizens issue is resolved

With the government making Aadhaar cards mandatory to access a host of social security schemes, apart from filing taxes and operating a PAN card, Assam’s citizens are in the throes of a peculiar problem. The state has an Aadhaar penetration of about six per cent, owing to the intertwining issues of citizenship and illegal immigration.

As of November 15, 2016, only 18,16,459 of Assam’s 3,11,69,272 citizens had Aadhar cards. When registration booths for Aadhaar cards were mushrooming in the country, there was a demand from to stop them in Assam.

The All Assam Students Union (AASU), who has been univocally demanding a resolution to the issue of the upgradation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), opposed Aadhaars in the state saying that several undocumented people will become citizens through the card.

Speaking to DNA, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that the state administration is now discussing ways to ensure Aadhaar cards for everyone before the December 31 deadline.

“We have also discussed the matter with the Centre. Assam is a sensitive state, with international borders, and we will need to work out ways to safeguards the interests of the people. It needs to be a gradual process,” said Sonowal.

AASU, however, said that they will write to the Home ministry to immediately stop the registration of Aadhar cards in Assam. “In cases where the NRC is relying on Aadhaar data in Assam, we want the Centre to delete it from the register. The case is pending in the Supreme Court, and our demand is that the cut-off date should remain at 1971, not later,” said AASU President Dipanko Kumar Nath.

As per the notifications sent out by several ministries, the deadline for several crucial social schemes like pension, midday meals for school-children, cash benefits for the differently-abled, cash benefits for food grains, honorarium for teachers, self-employment schemes for women and adult teachers, etc is June 30, 2017. While for some other schemes, such as scholarships for SC, ST and OBC students, compensation for contractual labours engaged in government work, ASHA workers, etc., the deadline ends on March 31, 2017.

In Assam, a few unauthorised centres were registering people under Aadhaar. In the last few weeks, the state government has taken up a some centres in Nagaon, Golaghat and Sonitpur district as a pilot project.

Nullified panchayat certificates leave 48 lakh women helpless

In the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi from Kaliabor, raised the issue of 48 lakh married women in the state who will be left in the lurch after a recent Gauhati High Court judgment invalidated panchayati certificates as citizenship documents.

“This is gross injustice against women. The usage of panchayat certificates has been approved by the MHA itself, by the Registrar General India and the Census Commissioner,” Gogoi said.

Speaking to DNA, Gogoi said the matter directly affects the women, several of whom are poor and helpless. “Personally, we feel that by creating this legal ambiguity, the important NRC process is being jeopardised, and eventually the deadline pushed. This is a result of the ulterior motives of the BJP government, because it plans to bring in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act to allow Bangladeshi Hindus to move to Assam,” Gogoi said.