As floodwaters swirled around him in mid-July, Habibur Rahman and his family of six scrambled to save their belongings in Assam’s Alikakh char, a sand bar on the Brahmaputra about 70km from state capital Guwahati. Their main worry was a few pieces of documents—brownish, the edges slightly frayed. Rahman wrapped them tightly in plastic to keep the paper dry, in case the water rose further. These papers—land documents in the name of his father and grandfather—will determine his fate and that of his family in a few weeks from now when the much-awaited and updated national register of citizens (NRC) is published.
This Tuesday, the Supreme Court extended the deadline for publication of the final NRC till August 31, but that is unlikely to provide any succour to people like the Rahmans— wife Aklima Khatun and sons Nur Alam, seven, and Faridul, five—who found their names struck off the citizenship document last year. Ironically, the names of their two daughters—Samira Begum, 14, and Shahida Khatun, 11—have been included. The procedural flaws have brought the NRC update under the scanner but officials maintain that all “genuine Indian citizens” will be included.