Provide alternative to Aadhaar till we expand coverage: Assam CM Sonowal tells Centre

New Delhi: Apprehending misuse of Aadhaar by illegal immigrants, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Saturday asked the Centre to consider alternative means to provide direct benefits such as subsidies till its coverage is expanded among the three crore population from the current 13 lakh holders.

Speaking at Inter-state Council meeting here, he asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider alternative to Aadhaar as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) updation exercise is on in the state and Aadhaar enrolment process will take time.

“As we propose to take up Aadhaar enrolment in full swing after completion of NRC updation in next couple of months, I request Prime Minister to consider using alternative mechanism to provide direct benefits including subsidies and public services to the citizens of Assam till that time,” he said.

The Chief Minister said the issue has caused genuine apprehension in the minds of the people that without NRC updation, Aadhaar may be used by illegal migrants for availing various government benefits and for claiming citizenship.

In this context, Sonowal proposed the use of Jan Dhan accounts for the purpose till the Aadhaar enrolment is taken up after completion of NRC updation exercise. At present there are only 13 lakh Aadhaar enrolments out of a population of more than three crore, he said.

On the law-and-order front in the state, Sonowal demanded a coordinated and effective intelligence gathering mechanism to foil the sinister designs of nefarious forces out to disturb peace and harmony in the region. He asked the Centre help in equipping the Assam Police with latest gadgets and weapons and intensive training to deal effectively with insurgents and jihadi elements.

Sonowal said there was an urgent need for strengthening the road communications and telecom connectivity along border areas and remote habitations in Assam and neighbouring states to thwart the nefarious designs of forces inimical to India.

“We need to have road communications in border and remote areas, mobile and Internet connectivity right up to police station level so that intelligence gathering, taking local communities into confidence becomes fast and timely,” Sonowal said demanding a swift consideration.