2.89 crore applicants out of 3.29 crore get legal tag, others can file appeal from August 30.
Guwahati: Amid heightened tension and tight security, the registrar general of India on Monday released the “final draft” of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in which the names of 2.89 crore out of 3.29 crore applicants were included, but 40 lakh didn’t find mention, leaving them worried about their fate.
They now face a nearly month-long process of filing claims and objections that begins from August 30. Though the government has ruled out taking coercive action against anyone, the draft NRC, touted to be proof of Indian citizenship in Assam, evoked angry reactions from Opposition parties that called it an exercise aimed at playing vote bank politics by dividing and ruling.
To be officially recognised as an Indian citizen, residents of Assam had to submit documents proving that they or their families lived in the state before March 24, 1971. Family-wise application forms were to be submitted for getting names included in the updated NRC.
According to the 1985 Assam Accord, the date of detection and deportation of foreigner from the state is March 25, 1971, irrespective of any religious affiliation, while for rest of India the date of detection and deportation of foreigners is 1951.
The release of the NRC final draft, that is being monitored by the Supreme Court since 2015, marks the near culmination of a gigantic task aimed at addressing concerns of indigenous Assamese people over the presence of illegal migrants from Bangladesh.
Over Rs 1,220 crore have been spent on the exercise since September 2013 during which 5.5 lak documents were sent to different states for verification and 27 lakh hearings held for special verification.The first NRC was prepared in 1951 following the first wave of immigrants from the then East Pakistan. The second wave of immigrants followed the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.
In Delhi, Union home minister Rajnath Singh assured the Opposition parties that no coercive action would be taken against anyone.
Registrar general of India Sailesh, while releasing the final NRC draft in Guwahati, said, “This is a historic day for India and Assam. The exercise is unparalleled in the size. It is a legal process done under the direct supervision of the Supreme Court.”
Asserting that the exercise was carried out in a transparent, fair, objective manner, he said, “People, whose name could not find place in the final draft need not to worry. They will be given ample opportunity to prove their claim. No genuine Indian citizen should have any fear.”
Satyendra Garg, joint secretary, home ministry, who was also present at the time of the release of the final NRC draft in Guwahati, said, “We are not calling them Indians or non-Indians. At present no action will be taken as the claims, objections and correction process has to be undertaken.”
Asked about the reasons for excluding names of around 40 lakh applicants, NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela, who was also present at the press meet, said, “We are not going to make the reasons public. It will be informed individually. They can find the reasons by visiting NRC sewa kendras.”
“Each of them will be sent letters. We are trying to tell them that they might have missed out because of some reasons such as unsubstantiated documents. We will provide assistance to them to file claims and objections,” he said.
On Tuesday, the matter is likely to come up before the Supreme Court which had set a July 31 deadline for the Union government to release the final NRC draft.
When asked about West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s concerns over the exclusion of around 40 lakh applicants from the NRC draft, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal of the BJP said, “No one should spread misinformation. No one should also give any importance to misinformation.”
Earlier, an Assam police officer said prohibitory orders under Sec 144 of CrPC have been imposed in all the 33 districts of the state as a precautionary measure to prevent any untoward incident.
During the anti-illegal foreigners’ movement in Assam in 1980, demands were raised to update the first list of NRC created in 1951.
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and Assam Gana Parishad in 1980 submitted a memorandum to the Centre, seeking the updation of the list to protect the indigenous culture of Assam from illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
The issue has repeated sparked violence, the worst being the Nellie massacre in central Assam in February 18, 1983, that left over 2,100 people, mostly Muslims, dead.
The violence that took place in Nellie was seen as a fallout of the decision to hold the controversial state elections in 1983 in the midst of the Assam agitation after the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s decision to give 40 lakh immigrants from Bangladesh the right to vote.
In 1985, the Assam accord was signed to identify and deport foreigners.
In a tripartite meeting to review the implementation of the Assam Accord chaired by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005, a decision to update the NRC was taken.
In 2010, a pilot project of updating the NRC in Barpeta and Chaygaon revenue circles was called off after violent protest in Barpeta town in which four persons were killed and several others injured.
The NRC updation resumed in 2015 after a gap of five years under the Supreme Court’s supervision with March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for genuine Indian citizens in Assam.
Around 3.29 crore people of Assam had applied for the inclusion of their names and around 6.6 crore documents were submitted by applicants. Around 5.5 lakh documents were sent to different states for verification.
For inclusion in the updated NRC, copies of the NRC published in 1951 and the electoral rolls up to 1971 were made available for inspection at NRC seva kendras (NSK) and at notified polling stations.
To support the claim for inclusion in the updated NRC, people were asked to look for their own, parents’ or ancestor’s names in the documents published at the designated NSK and polling stations.