40 lakh not in register cannot be called illegal, says Prateek Hajela

A day after BJP President Amit Shah said the NRC would weed out “ghuspethiye” (infiltrators) in Assam, the Supreme Court-appointed coordinator for the exercise termed such descriptions as “too premature” and said that all the 40,07,707 people left out of the “complete draft” cannot be clubbed under that description, or as illegal migrants, merely on the basis of the register.

“No, we can’t say all these 40 lakh are ghuspethiye,” Prateek Hajela, the NRC coordinator, told media at New Delhi in an interview. Hajela was responding to a question on whether those whose names were missing in the final draft could be called infiltrators or illegal migrants.

The man at the centre of the NRC exercise said that only a “judicial scrutiny” can establish whether a person can be called an illegal migrant or not.

“These people will get another chance to prove their credentials. Then we will come out with a final NRC. The NRC process will be over then. Even after that, whether a person is an illegal migrant or not is something that can be decided only by judicial scrutiny and that is through a certain set of codes, which has been established in Assam… called the Foreigners Tribunal,” said Hajela.

Acknowledging that “there could be errors” in finalising the draft NRC, as it is a “manual process”, the coordinator said people will have the opportunity to “object to any entry”.

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