1.9m people left off Assam NRC list, risking statelessness
10:52 AM, August 31, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:10 PM, August 31, 2019

1.9m people left off Assam NRC list

3.1 crore people included

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-- Final National Register of Citizens released in Assam

-- 19 lakh people left out of NRC list

-- 3.1 crore people included

-- Those excluded can file appeals within 120 days in Foreigners’ Tribunals

About 19.7 lakh people were excluded from the much-awaited final National Register of Citizens (NRC) of Indian citizens in Assam which was published today, officials said according to our New Delhi correspondent. 

The draft of NRC released in July last year had left out over 40 lakh people and an additional list released in June this year kept out one lakh more taking the total tally to 41 lakh.

The final NRC was made public at 10:00am Indian time today excluded names of about 19.07 lakh applicants, NRC State Coordinator's office said in a statement according to the correspondent. 

The names of 3.11 crore applicants were included in the final NRC, it said.

The status of both inclusion and exclusion can be viewed online in the NRC website, www.nrcassam.nic.in.

How can those who were left out of the NRC appeal?

The Home Ministry said at least 1,000 tribunals will be set up in phases to hear disputes; 100 tribunals are already open and 200 more will be set up in the first week of September.

The hard copies of the supplementary list of inclusions are available for public viewing at the NRC Seva Kendras (NSK), offices of the deputy commissioner and offices of the Circle Officer during office hours, the statement said.

The NRC seeks to weed out illegal immigrants, failed to make it to the final document that hit public domain capping four years of Supreme Court-mandated and monitored exercise.

“Taking into account all the persons already included and after disposal of all claims and objections and proceedings under Clause 4(3), it has been found that a total of 3,11,21,004 numbers of persons are found eligible for inclusion in Final NRC leaving out 19,06,657 numbers of persons including those who did not submit claims,” a press statement issued by the NRC office said.

The final NRC is a supplementary list of inclusion or exclusion of those applicants whose names were not included in earlier drafts, those who faced objections to their inclusions or those who were in the earlier drafts called for hearings that took place since July this year.

Applicants would be able to know their status at NRC sewa kendras (NSKs) and offices of circle officers and deputy commissioners or log on to the NRC official site.

Thousands of anxious applicants thronged their nearest seva kendras across the state since early this morning to take a look at the final list to know their fate.

The final NRC was made public as thousands of police and para-military personnel roamed the streets of Assam to maintain peace and guard against any backlash.

There was no report of any untoward incident immediately after the final list was made public at 10 am Indian time.

The Indian and Assam state governments have repeatedly assured that those excluded from the final NRC would not be declared foreigners and have the option of filing appeals within 120 days in Foreigners’ Tribunals which will decide on their citizenship status based on provisions of Foreigners Act, 1946, and Foreigner (Tribunals) Order, 1964.

The exercise to update the NRC, first prepared for Assam in 1951, had begun in 2015 following directions from the Supreme Court.

The demand for identification of illegal immigrants and deletion of their names from voter lists started in 1979 with All Assam Students’ Union fronting a six-year violent street agitation against foreigners that left scores of people dead in the state.

The agitation ended with the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985 that provided for updating of the NRC with the cut-off date being March 24, 1971 for those who entered the state till that date.

How have the political parties reacted to the NRC?

Assam’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, main opposition Congress and All Assam Students Union, which had waged a six-year-long violent agitation against foreigners in Assam between 1979 and 1985 before the Assam Accord was signed envisaging the NRC, expressed unhappiness with the final NRC.

The AASU in fact said it would move the Supreme Court against “all the faults” in the final NRC. 

The Assam government has already ruled out detention of people who do not figure in the list "in any circumstances" till the time Foreigners Tribunals declare them foreigners.

Ramen Deka, the BJP lawmaker from Mangaldoi, said a large number of illegal Muslim immigrants made the cut while many indigenous people were left out.

"We are not at all happy. A large number of Muslims have been enlisted while genuine Indian citizens have been left out. The exercise was conducted under the supervision of the Supreme Court but the document is not up to the mark," he said.

Abdul Khaleque, the Congress lawmaker from Barpeta, said he was "not fully satisfied". "A lot of genuine names have been excluded," he said.

AASU General Secretary Lirunjyoti Gogoi said "we are not happy at all. It seems there were some deficiencies in the updatation process. We believe that it is an incomplete NRC. We will appeal to the Supreme Court to remove all the faults and descrepancies in this NRC."

Addressing a press conference in Guwahati, Gogoi said the final figure of exclusion did not even come close to the figures officially announced by authorities on various occasions.

Assam Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma, deplored that many people who came to India as refugees before 1971 were not included in the final citizenship roll.

He demanded that the Supreme Court allow reverification of at least 20 per cent of people included in the list in districts bordering Bangladesh and 10 per cent in the rest of Assam. A plea for re-verification by Assam and Indian governments was earlier rejected by the top court.

"Names of many Indian citizens who migrated as refugees prior to 1971 have not been included in the NRC because authorities refused to accept refugee certificates. Many names got included because of manipulation of legacy data as alleged by many," he tweeted.

The Assam Public Works (APW), the original petitioner in the Supreme Court which led to the NRC updation, called the final NRC a "flawed document". It said the citizenship roll could not become error-free because the apex court had turned down its demand for reverification.

"The Final NRC has made it obvious that the problem of illegal immigration will never be resolved in Assam. If this NRC had been completed flawlessly, it would have gone down as a golden chapter in Assam's history," APW president Aabhijeet Sharma said.

 

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