Conrad Sangma not keen on immediate implementation of NRC in Meghalaya

Conrad Sangma not keen on immediate implementation of NRC in Meghalaya

TNT News | Shillong, Sep 26, 2018:

Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma on Wednesday said that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) requires thorough discussions while keeping in mind the legalities around this exercise and maintained that the same cannot be done overnight.

Reacting to the popular demand for implementation of NRC in the state, the chief minister refrained from giving a clear assurance stating "If we are to implement NRC-like exercise in the state, we have to examine the pros and cons of the exercise."

Replying to the short duration discussion moved by Opposition chief whip PT Sawkmie regarding a news item under the caption "NESO for NRC in all Northeast states", Sangma said "NRC exercise cannot be done overnight, it requires manpower and strengthening of departments and there are lot of issues pending in the system."

Stating that unlike in Assam which is linked to the Assam Accord, Sangma said that there will be a lot of repercussions in Meghalaya if NRC is implemented immediately. "There will be a possibility where our own people and genuine citizens from rural villages may be left out for not possessing documents," he said adding that this issue is 'sensitive' and has a lot of negative ramification as well.

The Chief Minister informed that the Government had intended to call an all party meet to discuss on possibilities to roll out an NRC-like exercise in the state and to embark into discussions with all stakeholders. However, due to the Assembly bypolls, the same was postponed.

He assured the House that the Government will invite all stakeholders to have a threadbare discussion on the issue before arriving at any conclusion.

Earlier, Umroi MLA and Congress legislator, George Lyngdoh had raised similar concerns stating that if the NRC exercise is conducted immediately in the state, it may boomerang as most of the genuine citizens do not possess documents.

He suggested that the government should first make the people aware and understand, through the traditional heads, the importance of documentations and identification.

Referring to the announcement of the NRC draft in Assam where over 40 lakh people were excluded, Lyngdoh said "The Government seems unperturbed with the eventualities of the NRC draft."

Similarly, Leader of Opposition, Dr Mukul Sangma had stated that keeping in mind the fallout of NRC in Assam, there is a need to see that the Meghalaya is not at the receiving end while citing an instance which took place last year when where were reports of an abnormal increase in enrollment of electorates in some constituencies.

"There is a need to see whether the fallout in Assam has had an adverse impact on Meghalaya but having said this, it is necessary to allow the law guide us through the procedures; Let us go in accordance with the law," said the LO.

Reacting to this, the Chief Minister informed that a day before the announcement of the NRC draft on July 30, he had spoken and alerted the DGP, SPs and DCs of the districts sharing borders with Assam.

He informed that the district administrations are keeping a close watch and are monitoring the entry of people into the state."This is the top priority of the government," assured Conrad.

Earlier, the Leader of Opposition and CLP leader had also suggested the government to examine and improve the existing acts like Meghalaya Residence Social Security Act 2016 since the act is a conviction of a long drawn exercise. "In the meantime, let the government implement the act to address problems of influx and if there are any provisions which require to be included, the same can be done accordingly," he suggested.

Welcoming this suggestion, the Chief Minister said "There are some provisions of the Meghalaya Residence Social Security Act 2016 which are good and can be used," while informing that he had officially asked the political department to strengthen the provisions of MRSS to give more power to local headman, nokmas etc. "We are definitely on the job," he said.

On issues relating to setting up of entry and exit points across the state, Conrad informed "It is in an advanced stage and even the land acquisition is in advance stage. It will start in a phase manner and implementation will be taken up first in the most critical areas as it is not possible to start together."

Stating that setting up of an entry and exit point is very crucial in Mendipathar railway station, the Chief Minister informed that he had directed the state Home Minister and Deputy CM to identify the area for setting up of a facilitation centre in Mendipathar while adding that this move will boost confidence of the people.

Later, while speaking to media persons, Leader of Opposition, Dr Mukul Sangma called the NRC in Assam, a faulty exercise as many of the genuine citizen are excluded from the NRC list in respect of Assam.

Dr Sangma said another aspect of NRC in Assam is the fallout because it is likely that affected people will ultimately take refuge in the neighbouring states. "Therefore Government should take care of this in order to protect the interest of the people," while urging the state Government to engage pressure groups, civil society organisation, and stakeholders to deal with the concern issue.

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