The number not in list after a four-year exercise to determine status of 3.30 crore Assam residents
By Abhishek Saha
More than 19 lakh people in Assam faced an uncertain future on Saturday morning as the final National Register of Citizens was released, four years after the exercise to compile it started. Of the 3,30,27,661 applicants, 3,11,21,004 made it, leaving out 19,06,657 residents of Assam, National Register of Citizens (NRC) state coordinator Prateek Hajela said in a press statement.
The final draft NRC published in July last year had included 2.89 crore of the 3.29 crore applicants, excluding over 40 lakh people. Over 36 lakh of these people had filed their “claims” against the exclusion and of the 2.89 crore included, around 2 lakh people had had objections filed against their names.
In the draft exclusion list of June 26 this year, 1.02 lakh of these 2.89 crore were excluded, and both excluded and objected persons got a chance to appeal their cases.
“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,” Hajela said.
He added, “The entire process of NRC update has been meticulously carried out in an objective and transparent manner. Adequate opportunity of being heard has been given to all persons at every stage of the process. The entire process is conducted as per statutory provisions and due procedure followed at every stage.”
Hundreds of people began thronging NRC offices soon after the list was released. Notwithstanding apprehensions about disquiet, Assam remained calm. However, parties across the political divide protested, calling the final NRC faulty for having left out genuine citizens and included illegal residents, with some saying they would appeal against it in the Supreme Court.
A demographic or district-wise break-up of the data was not available on Saturday, including on exclusion. But on August 1 this year, the Assam government had presented before the state Assembly district-wise data on exclusion from the draft NRC of last year, underlining that in districts bordering Bangladesh the exclusion percentage was lower while in other districts it was comparatively higher.
This followed the Supreme Court’s rejection of pleas by the Assam government and Centre demanding re-verification of 20 per cent of the names in the draft NRC in border districts and 10 per cent in other districts. Hajela had told the apex court that in the course of consideration/adjudication of the claims, re-verification to the extent of 27 per cent had already been done.
Saturday’s list, which was put up at 10 am, is a “Supplementary Inclusions List” which will provide the names of those included in the NRC after they had filed “claims” against their exclusion, either in the final draft of last year, or in the additional draft exclusions list published on June 26, 2019, or those who were in the final draft but had “objections” filed against their names, or those who were included in the final draft but had been called for hearings from July 5, 2019, onwards.
“From 10 AM of today (31 August 2019) onward, the hard copies of the Supplementary List of Inclusions will be available for public view at NRC Seva Kendras (NSK), offices of the Deputy Commissioner and offices of the Circle Officer during office hours. The status of both inclusion and exclusion can be viewed online on the NRC website (www.nrcassam.nic.in),” Hajela said.
Both state and Central governments have said that those excluded from the NRC would get an opportunity to be heard in Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs). They have 120 days to file an appeal, and as long as a person’s claim is pending at an FT, he will not be treated as “illegal foreigner” just because he is excluded from the NRC.
“The government of Assam will take care of the cause of the excluded people and due care will be taken so that no body is subjected to any unnecessary harassment,” chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said on Friday. The NRC exercise was technically an updation of the 1951 Assam NRC, which had been prepared then based on that year’s Census. “The process of NRC update in Assam differs from the rest of the country and is governed by Rule 4A and the corresponding Schedule of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. These rules have been framed as per the cut-off date of 24th March (Midnight), 1971, decided as per Assam Accord,” Hajela said in Saturday’s statement.
Hajela added, “The process of receipt of NRC Application Forms started during the end of May 2015 and ended on 31st August 2015. A total of 3,30,27,661 members applied through 68,37,660 applications. The particulars submitted by the applicants were taken up for scrutiny to determine eligibility of their inclusion in NRC.” He said the exercise involved around 52,000 state government officials.