As many as 33 lakh of the 40 lakh people whose names did not figure in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft are yet to file their objections with less than two weeks to go for the deadline for filing of claims to end.
NRC Assam: As many as 33 lakh of the 40 lakh people whose names did not figure in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft are yet to file their objections with less than two weeks to go for the deadline for filing of claims to end. The Supreme Court last month extended the time for filing of claims and objections against the NRC draft from November 25 to December 15.
o far, 7 lakh claims and objections have been filed out of 40 lakh who were not among the 2.8 crore people to figure in the July 30 document. According to a report in The Indian Express, the less number of claims indicate the difficulty the excluded face in getting onto the NRC list.
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Under ‘Objections’, those excluded from the NRC draft can raise objections to the inclusion of a name in the final list. However, procedures put in place are making it difficult for those who face deportation in case they fail to make it to the NRC. The seriousness of the matter could be evaluated by the fact that Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in a press statement on November 23 admitted that the number of claims filed over the NRC was so far ‘very dissatisfactory’.
The IE report said that ‘freezing of legacy person’, setting the cut-off date for documents that could be used by a person to establish link to his ancestors as August 31, 2015, is among other factors that are hindering the filing of claims.
In one of the case studies, the IE report said that Hanif Ali (48), a resident of Majortop village in Kamrup district, has not been able to file his claim because he spent the last month searching for his ‘actual’ grandfather. Hanif Ali’s two sons work as tailors in Guwahati. They used legacy data of his grandfather Mokrum Ali whose name he knew was in the 1951 NRC from Goalpara district. But NRC officials during the family tree verification found Mokrum was a different man with the same name, thus Ali and his 20 members family were excluded from the NRC draft.
When Hanif Ali provided legacy data of his father Rustom whose name was in 1996 voters’ list, it was ruled out by the officials citing the Supreme Court’s directives. As per the Standard Operations Procedure of the Claims and Objections round accepted by the top court, a person can’t use a different legacy of a person than the one used during the initial application claim.
Hanif Ali said that when his claim was not accepted, he started searching for his grandfather. He travelled to Tiapara, around 120 km from Majortop, in Goalpara district. “After weeks, I found out that my grandfather lived not in 62 Tiapara (as he had mentioned in the NRC papers) but in 63 Tiapara. I have now found the name of my actual grandfather in both the 1951 NRC as well as the 1954 voters’ list. This took time. I will file the Claim soon,” he told Indian Express.
Hatisala village resident in Kamrup, Shoripan Nessa, an illiterate woman in her 30s, who was also excluded from NRC draft, tried establishing her ‘linkage’ to her father through a Gaon Bura certificate (a certificate issued by the village headman). But the document was disqualified because the headman did not maintain proper backend data/register.
Akram Hussain, the panchayat president of Hatisala-Bhalukabari, said that there are hundreds like Nessa. If Nessa tries to get any certificate in order to establish the link to her father from any local body, it won’t be accepted.
“The only respite Nessa, and hundreds like her, now have is the ration card,” Hussain said.
But the standard operating procedure (SOP) mentions that ration cards will be subject to rigorous scrutiny and only on veracity may be considered.
Hussain is coordinating with multiple NGOs in the state to help people file their claims and objections. He added that there is confusion regarding which documents to submit afresh. “Illiterate, poor people, who comprise a large percentage of those excluded, do not understand much of the complexities,” he said.
Notably, the Supreme Court had last month permitted 5 additional identity documents for filing claims and objections. Earlier, the court had permitted 10 identity documents for filing claims and objections. These additional identity documents are National Register of Citizens (NRC), 1951; electoral roll up to 24 March, 1971; Citizenship Certificate; Refugee Registration Certificate and certified copies of pre-1971 electoral roll; and ration card.
The filing of Objections too, at 200-odd, has been negligible, th IE report said. In a recent press statement, Upamanyu Hazarika, a senior Supreme Court lawyer, said that the main reason behind less number of claims and objection is that an objector needs to know the Application Receipt Number (ARN) of the person whose inclusion he wants to object.
“The procedure for filing an Objection has rendered the entire process a nullity,” Hazarika said. ARN is a 21-digit number. It is received by the one at the time of filing for inclusion in the NRC.