Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) coordinator Prateek Hajela said affected people will get adequate opportunities to register their claims and objections after the release of the final draft NRC in the state on July 30.
The final draft of the NRC will be the first official log that attempts to determine who is an Indian citizen in the Northeastern state. A partial draft, published last year, had put out 190 lakh names, which had been authenticated until that point out of 329 lakh applicants. Many of those whose names did not figure later filed claims seeking inclusion. What happens to them will be known in a few days. The tension is clearly mounting.
Unique to the state of Assam NRC is the register containing names of genuine Indian citizens that was first prepared in 1951 after conduct of the Census of 1951. The NRC is being updated to include the names of those persons (or their descendants), who appear in the NRC, 1951, or in any of the electoral rolls up to the midnight of March 24 of 1971.
“Let it be very clear that what is going to be published on July 30 is a draft. It doesn’t mean that the NRC process has ended. Therefore, the people who don’t find their names in the list need not worry that they are not genuine Indian citizens. They still have chances to replay by filing a claim,” Hajela told Outlook.
Many apprehend that at least 3 million people will not find their names in the final draft which include the people who have been tagged as ‘Doubtful’ or ‘D-voters’ by the Election Commission and their families.
Also, the people who have received notices from the 100 Foreigners Tribunal, set up by Assam government to find out illegal residents, to prove their citizenship won’t find their names in the list. Also, the declared foreigners, whose population is around 90,000 in the state, would not find their names.
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“We considered application forms of around 3.3 crore people in the last three years. This time, more personalised attention will be given to a smaller number of people who will be applying for the claims. Even after the final the NRC is published, if someone can’t prove his or her citizenship, that individual still can approach the Foreigners Tribunals to get their names cleared,” said Hajela.
The latest official data show there are 1.13 lakh doubtful voters in Assam, while the number of people declared foreigners is nearly 90,000. However, activists say the number of D-voters could be highly inflated as some names are repeated multiple times. Around 1,000 of these D-voters and foreigners are lodged in six detention camps in the state. But only 4,000-odd people among the declared foreigners have been identified, while the rest are allegedly missing.
And till December 2017, around 2.41 cases have been referred to the FTs.
Hajela, however, said those allegations were absolutely baseless. “We see everyone equally,” he added.