As the debate rages over the recently published National Register of Citizens in Assam, India Today group’s The Lallantop talked about discussed it with controversial journalist Rajdeep Sardesai. And as the trend of coverage of the NRC by the national media, the discussion was full of misinformation and completely fake data.
At the beginning of the show, host Saurabh Dwivedi says that the final NRC has excluded 40 lakh names, and with an additional exclusion list of around 1 lakh people published on 31st August, now total 41 lakh names have been excluded from the NRC. Saurabh says his Lallantop team reported on NRC for 5 days, and he gets the basic numbers wrong. Because 41 lakh names are not excluded from the NRC, the final NRC published on 31st August excludes 19 lakh applicants.
Saurabh Dwivedi used the numbers from the second draft and an exclusion list published earlier to deliberately inflate the number of people excluded. On 30 July 2018, the second draft was released with 40 lakh names excluded, and in June this year, an exclusion list of 1 lakh people was published, bringing the number of people excluded from draft NRC to 41 lakh. But all these people were allowed to appeal the exclusion, and after hearing of all appeals and objections, the final NRC was published. This final register supersedes the earlier 2 drafts and 1 exclusion list, and their numbers are irrelevant now. But still, The Lallantop used old numbers.
Another interesting detail to note is that when Rajdeep Sardesai started the discussion by saying that 19 lakh people have been told they are not citizens, Saurabh ‘corrects’ him that is should be 41 lakh, and Rajdeep agrees to that. He says, ‘yes after addition now it is 41 lakh, but the last list published had 19 lakh names, after that new additions are being made’. This shows how serious research Mr Sardesai had done on NRC before coming to the discussion, his correct figure was ‘corrected’ to a wrong figure, and he accepts it, and wrongly claims that new additions are coming out. Which means he is not confident about his own data and believes whatever number his host feeds him.
From NRC the discussion naturally moves to Citizenship Amendment Bill, and on that topic, Rajdeep makes a shocking claim. He outrightly rejects religious persecution on Hindus and other minorities in Bangladesh, claiming all Bangladeshis, Hindus and Muslims, are migrating to India only for economic reasons. News of attacks on minorities by Islamic fundamentalists in Bangladesh appear almost daily, but one of the most senior journalists in India chooses to deny that fact.
Rajdeep Sardesai also claims that BJP did the NRC in Assam as a part of vote bank politics, which is another big lie. NRC was the demand of people of Assam for last 3 decades, and finally, in 2013 the Supreme Court of India had ordered it to be updated, responding to petition filed in 2009 by an organisation named Assam Public Works. Following the apex court order, the work on updating the NRC started in 2015, when Congress was in power in Assam. Moreover, the entire process was done by NRC administration under the supervision of the Supreme Court, over which the state government didn’t have any control. Therefore, it is completely wrong to credit or blame BJP for the NRC.
While talking about CAB keeping illegal Muslim immigrants out, Rajdeep Sardesai says think what Mahatma Gandhi would have done to illegal Bangladeshis. Using Gandhi’s name is an easy way to escape from questions, and Rajdeep makes smart of the same. Moreover, Mahatma Gandhi’s views accepting Muslim supremacy is well known. He had said, “Even if the Muslims want to kill us (Hindus) all we should face death bravely. If they established their rule after killing Hindus we would be ushering in a new world by sacrificing our lives”. Therefore, the question of what Gandhi would have done to illegal immigrants have only one answer, and everyone, including Rajdeep Sardesai, knows that.