New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday cautioned the Union government Tuesday against any coercive actions based on the findings of the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) report and directed them to evolve a process to deal with the claims of the excluded 4 million.

The apex court’s observation comes a day after the NRC was published in Assam. The issue has become a political flashpoint between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and opposition parties.

Claiming that the Union government was acting in the interest of “national security" by tracing illegal immigrants, BJP president Amit Shah accused the opposition of seeking to indulge in vote-bank politics, while Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee alleged that the saffron party was seeking to divide the country on social fault lines.

“The Assam Accord was signed in 1985 under the leadership of then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. How can Congress party mislead people on NRC for vote bank politics? Rahul Gandhi should tell the country what is the stand of his party on the issue of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. All political parties should clarify their stand," said Amit Shah, BJP president, at a press conference.

In an equally aggressive response Banerjee said, “The NRC is being done with a political motive. We will not let this happen. They (BJP) are trying to divide the people. The situation cannot be tolerated. There will be a civil war, blood bath in the country."

“NRC was aimed at reflecting the aspirations of Assamese people and not as a tool to divide the society, which BJP Govt is making it out to be. History will never pardon the ilk of Modi-Amit Shah for distorting the entire process for opportunistic political gains," Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala wrote on Twitter.

Earlier in the day, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Mayawati also attacked the government and demanded that an all-party meeting be held on the issue.

Earlier, the apex court had directed the government to formulate a standard operating procedure (SOP) to deal with claims and objections of those excluded.

A bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and R.F. Nariman said the centre should place the SOP before it by 16 August and that a local registrar has to give notice to those who have filed claims and objections, allowing them reasonable opportunity for a hearing.

NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela informed the Supreme Court that the claims and objections with regard to inclusion and exclusion in the NRC could be filed from 30 August to 28 September.

Meanwhile, in Bangladesh the response to the developments in Assam was subdued. Most newspapers in Dhaka seemed preoccupied with local elections and a students’ protest to take note of the NRC controversy in India. According to Abed Khan, a journalist with the vernacular “Dainik Jagran" paper and based out of Dhaka, the few newspapers that did take note restricted themselves to carrying international news agency copies rather than their own reports.

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