Just weeks after announcing a National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Karnataka, similar to that of Assam's, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai retracted his announcement and said instead the State government will only concentrate on compiling a list of immigrants without proper documentation.
The detention centre facility built in Nelamangala will be used to hold immigrants without documentation temporarily till the final decision on their deportation is taken. The Foreigners Regional Registration Office(FRRO) had already compiled a list of over 800 illegal immigrants belonging to 14 countries mostly, and the process of identifying, scrutinising and eventually deporting illegal immigrants will continue as planned.
A source close to the Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa claimed that the proposal to conduct NRC in Karnataka was neither brought to him nor approved by him. After the demand was put forth by some MPs and MLAs of BJP and then by the Hindu Janajagruthi Samithi, media posed questions on the same to the then newly appointed Home Minister and he made an off-the-cuff comment while answering the question, the source said.
While the statement made headlines across the country, the enormity of what conducting NRC in a State like Karnataka entails was not taken into account. Since the Union Home Minister Amit Shah had also called for the NRC to be conducted across the country, the statement by Bommai was largely seen as an extension of that.
But on studying the implementation of the same, the officials of the home department impressed upon the Home Minister that NRC is a massive exercise and the challenges that it comes with. As a state that does not share borders with any of the neighbouring countries, the problem in Karnataka was that of illegal immigrants and to address that, the home department is looking at alternate methods, tempering the proposal for NRC currently.
Proclamation of NRC in Karnataka had received flak by the opposition parties who had called it a smokescreen to harass minorities in particular. Congress had alleged that to distract attention from the government’s failure in providing flood relief, they are using the issue of NRC.